In an effort to keep the spirit of baseball alive in late August, let’s talk Mariners everybody! Based on the exhausting nature of the first two games I attended at Safeco, I watched Sunday’s hazy afternoon game from the lazy comfort of my couch. Here we go! Go Mariners!
FRIDAY / HAPPY FELIXDAY (Felix “old faithful” Hernandez v. Chris Sale):
All my favorite F-words: Felix, Fireworks and Friday… Okay those aren’t my entire favorite but for this topic, they are. Anyway, just getting off a long day at work it was the ideal ending to an even longer week. 35,000 in attendance to see our King come off the arguably worst start of his 10 year career (2.1 innings pitched, 10 Earned Runs v. Boston on 8/15). No matter what this weird and frustrating season has turned into, Seattle fans will always stand by #34. He loves us, we love him; end of story… Que Aloe Blacc’s widely famous ballad “I’m The Man” as our Felix walks across the center field grass from warm-ups and we’re off to a perfect staged evening of Seattle baseball.
Felix was o.k. enough through 3, only throwing 38 pitches. The 4th inning the Sox went up 2-0 along with Felix’s pitch count. Somewhere in the middle of his outing, FeiFei quietly became the 5th pitcher all time to notch 2,100 K’s by the ripe young age of 29. By the time the 6th was over, the score was 4-0 and Felix was done with 100+ pitches. In the bottom 7 – back to back singles by Cano & Cruz made a no doubt about it #TRUMBOMB (don’t blame me… blame Dave Sims) possible. The Mariners were suddenly only a run down and back in an otherwise lethargic offensive performance.
Dun dun duuun! It’s the 8th inning and you can tell what’s about to happen by the collective sigh of everyone in the stadium… even the girls behind me who kept asking what happens to the score when no catches the ball after a hit were in sync with the most seasoned of M’s fans in attendance. “The FRE,” otherwise known as the Fernando Rodney Experience, was about to come into the game. Much to everyone’s surprise, he walks the bases loaded and gets pulled to the collective sound of extremely harsh booing. I should point out that it takes A LOT of pent up animosity for Mariners fans to boo a player. Our struggles of the last decade have been well documented and we have all suffered together. To turn on one of our own says a lot about how frustrated we are as fan base. The rest is almost routine: Rob Rasmussen proceeds to walk in two runs and yield another run to a single to right.
By the time the game reaches the bottom of the 9th the boys are down 11-3. Fans are frustrated but they aren’t leaving yet; they paid for fireworks and fireworks is what they’re gonna get, dammit. Other than a center field home run from Nelson “BoomstickBABYYY” Cruz (you’re welcome Dave Sims faithful… all 12 of you), the Mariners went down quietly.
The Mariners events/marketing team put on another feel-good-about-yourself firework show. The last few minutes of the 15 minute show a played short montage of the last three outs of Hishashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter the week before, and it hit me right in the feels. Yeah, we just lost 11-4 but watching Kuma Bear smile after that last out was enough to make the crowd leave feeling A-OK. We lost and we were alright (kinda) with it… Because Kuma’s smiles are magical. They remind us that even in the midst of the biggest disappointment of a season, there is always something to smile about. Thanks, Bear. Go Mariners.
SATURDAY/ROBINSON CANO BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT (Vidal Nuno v. Carlos Rodon):
Saturday Night I had the pleasure of attending the game with two people, family members of the co-worker that helped me cultivate the idea of this blog, who reside in the bay area and had never been to Safeco Field. They were two of a good handful of people I have taken to their first Mariners game and I’m always excited to pop a person’s Safeco Field cherry. We started the early evening at Quality Athletics for pre-game drinks. Quality athletics is a great open bar/restaurant area that has two outside sitting areas in addition to their fun indoor seating aesthetics. One wall is lined with old-school style lockers and the whole place is adorned with pictures from Jackie Robinson to the Oakland Athletics team photo circa 1960.
After drinks it was a quick 10 minute walk to the stadium to get hold of our own miniature Robinson Cano bobblehead to place on our shelves and forget about for the foreseeable future. We started in The Pen* and caught the end of Happy Hour ($6 dollar draft beer). I suggest if you’re as close to the end of happy hour as we were, double up and double fist if you don’t wanna fork out $30+ for beer before the game even starts. The Pen is an area dedicated to the social aspect of the game. I like to hang out there before first pitch but once the game starts, I’m outta there.
We began the game watching from the lookout above right-center field next to the Hit It Here Cafe*. If I don’t have the desire to take in the game from actual seats, this is my go-to spot. The view is almost always unbeatable and it’s especially breathtaking on Seattle summer evening.
Many fans still, I’m sure, recovering from the 3 hour + contest that took place the night before, are coming in high off life and bobbleheads, still remaining optimistic. Things start off harmlessly enough – Chicago ends up scoring only one off Nuno, who turned in a relatively professional outing. 6.2 innings, one earned run and a modest 4 Ks. In fact, Nuno was in line for the win thanks to a Franklin Gutierrez double (!!!!) and double play turned R.B.I. for Jesus Montero in the bottom of the 6th. In the 9th with a 3-1 lead, Carson “please dear God don’t be FRE 2.0” Smith gives up an R.B.I. single to Alexei Rameriez and R.B.I. groundout to Adam LaRoche (ugh). Then to add to the predictability of this game: “We’re going to extra innings, folks.”
This is approximately the 328494239084th extra inning game the Mariners have played in 2015 and let me tell you they are never any less painful. Except for when Nelly or Guti walk off and win the game. On second though a “hawt, hawt corner” Seager walk off is just as great too #loveyouall. Lord Farquhar gets the call to pitch the 10th and proceeds to WALK IN for what seems to be the 328494239084th time this this season (as you can tell, that is my least favorite theme of 2015) – the go ahead run. Add a passed ball by Mike Z and an R.B.I. force out from Carlos Sanchez and it’s 6-3; The Mariners go quietly in the 10th. The game ends, we’re sad, but at least we have a mini Robinson Cano to keep us company. Go Mariners.
SUNDAY (@TSKYWALK44 v. John Danks):
FERNANDO RODNEY HAS BEEN DESIGNATED FOR ASSIGNMENT. The Mariners finally made the decision the entire baseball world has been predicting for the greater portion of this season. It is an end of an (always frightening and heart attack inducing) era but that’s baseball, friends. Let’s start by going over game one of post-FRE that ended up being as stressful as any FRE game… Spoiler alert: we won, so there’s that.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was so emotionally hungover from watching the first two games of this series in person that I decided to watch this game on TV… We’re gonna talk about this game in three sections: Scoring! Runs!, Mariners gon’ Mariner and M’s Win (phew).
Scoring! Runs!: This game was a must win. Well, all games are a must win but getting swept by the White Sox in late August baseball would not have sat well with most Mariners fans. Chicago for the third time this series scores the first run of the game on an Alexei Ramirez single. Then the most magical thing in the world happened in the bottom of the third inning: Jesus Sucre R.B.I. single to center. I don’t know about you, but I will always cheer extra loud when that beautiful, beautiful man gets on base. Side note: Sucre is now batting .103… It’s the little things. Shortly after, Nelly Cruz hits a beauty of a two run double into the right center and we’re up 3-1. Franklin Gutierrez hits a line drive to right and Nelson scores making it 4-1 by inning’s end. Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth and what do you know, MORE RUNS! Austin Jackson scores Ketel Marte on a single, a day after being immortalized into a bobblehead, Robinson Cano adds to the run parade with a two-run shot to center making it 7-1 Mariners. Just as I was re-watching the highlights of that Robby Cano homerun, a commercial dedicated to young slugger Bryce Harper comes on and reminds me of something. Remember when Bryce was cited recently in an interview for his feature in ESPN’s Body Issue saying that Robinson Cano had the sexiest swing in all of baseball? That was the swing we saw launch a homerun today and we agree Bryce, we agree.
Mariners gon’ Mariner: This section brings us the 6th inning. Oh, 6th inning things were going so well… Why did you have to show up on this pleasant Sunday afternoon? No matter how much we didn’t want this inning to happen, it happened and thankfully it didn’t reeeeeallly mean much in the end. The White Sox plated 5 runners by a double and two home runs, one given up by Tai and one given up by newcomer Logan Kensing. The lead is cut down 7-6 and I’m going to move on because we won and today we’re not gonna talk about the sad stuff.
M’s Win (phew): When it was all said and done, the Mariners ended up scoring another run on a #MARTEPARTY (thank you Mariners marketing for my new favorite thing to say at a baseball game) sac fly, making the end score 8-6. Tom Wilhelmsen pitches a 1-2-3 ninth, even hitting 98 miles per hour (!) and gosh darnit, Tom, I just love you. Sunday was a good, not super great day, for Mariners baseball, but a win makes going into the next part of the home stand a little easier. We go straight into our next series against the Oakland Athletics which starts off the final month of what seems to be a month of playing only AL West teams. Let’s start off this new series with a smile on our face and enjoy some August baseball. As always, Go Mariners.