Welcome, fellow baseball reader. If you have not yet heard, Robinson Cano has now homered four times in the first three games of the season. He is essentially the fire emoji in human baseball form. The Mariners have not seen anything like it before:
Colby Lewis started the game for the Rangers. Wade Miley for the Mariners. Apparently the offense barrage from 12-hours prior did not tire these 2016 Mariners. The first inning scoring started with the man of the hour, Robinson Cano. He sent Lewis’ third pitch over the right field wall for his third home run in three games. Wade Miley then took over in the bottom of the inning, we blinked, and the first was over. In the second inning, former Texas Ranger Leonys Martin hits a line drive to right field for his first home run of the year. 2-0 Mariners. The bottom half the inning the Rangers earn two runs back on RBI from Ryan Rua and short time Mariner Justin Ruggiano. 3-2 Mariners.
For the next couple innings both teams were retired in order, save for a Nelson Cruz single in the 5th. Miley’s usual efficiency ran into trouble in the bottom of the 6th. He allows back-to-back singles to Shin-Soo Choo and Ian Desmond (I’ll remember this is a thing by the All-Star break), then an absolutely terrifying swing from Prince Fielder puts the ball in right-center for a home run. 5-3 Rangers.
Here’s the point over the last umpteen seasons where people give up, turn off the TV/Radio and mutter “same ol’ Mariners”. NO. NOT TODAY. NOT THIS SEASON. It’s now the top of the 7th. Thanks to Seattle transplant Keone Kela, Luis Sardinas and Ketel Marte are on board with singles. Walk to Seager. Cano up to bat. Lots of times the Mariners have come into this situation, and lots of times they failed to convert precious run-scoring opportunities. We’re used to this, but we’re all holding our breath. Cano does not in fact hit his second home run on the day (you just hold on ya eager beaver), but controls that zone and earns a bases loaded walk. Nelson Cruz flies out to end the inning. 5-4 Rangers.
The 8th goes by like it never happened, and the score is still marginally in favor of the Rangers. The Rangers do what any reasonable baseball team would do in the 9th inning of a close game, they bring in their closer, Shawn Tolleson. At this point I’m worried this is just going to be another 1-run loss (the Mariners were 28-29 games last season), something that is all too familiar. Cynicism is taught in the Mariners fan handbook, but we’re working hard to revise it to fit 2016 standards. You know what these Mariners did? They proved me wrong.
Norichika Aoki, a defensive sub for catcher Steve Clevenger, hits Tolleson’s first offering into center for a single. Two pitches later here comes the Partay with a single to left field. Leonys Martin is now up with the winning runs on base. Having hit a home run earlier in the second, you bet he was feeling good. Martin sends a 93 MPH fastball into left field for a double. Nori Aoki scores. With Marte and Martin (try saying that three times fast) on, Kyle Seager then works a full count and then hits a beautiful pitch into center field for a 2-run single. 7-5 Mariners.
You know who bats after Kyle Seager? Robinson Cano. 2016 MVP. I know what you’re thinking, there is just no way he hits another home run here, no way we hit the baseball player lottery this early in the season. Robinson Cano thinks nothing of that opinion. He proceeds to hit the first pitch he sees over the center filed wall for his second home run of the day.
I know it’s only game three. I know that thinking he’ll actually hit the 215 home runs he’s currently on pace for is a ridiculous pipe dream, but this… This is so much fun. I sat here for awhile and tried to remember the last team that showed this many signs of chemistry this early on, or a team that seemed like an actual cohesive unit. Nothing in recent years came to mind. There will be days that we can’t seem to hit a thing, or days that we actually do lose that 1-run game. For now, I’m going enjoy every last minute of these happy feelings. Next game? I’ll see you all at Safeco. Final score: Mariners 9, Rangers 5.
P.S – How about that bullpen?!