In the past, I have commiserated with many Mariners fans at various levels of angst and despair, hoping that this would be the game/month/season that we could turn our playing around. Save for whatever 2009 was, that moment has yet to come in the last decade.
On Monday, the Mariners returned to Safeco Field after a 6-3 road trip. Prior to that, they had turned in a 1-5 home stand and severely depleted any borderline fan interest that had been cultivated in the depths of the off season. We did not purely want this home stand to start well, we needed it to go well, and well it has gone.
At the end of Monday night’s series opener against the Astros, thanks to losses by the Rangers and Athletics, the Mariners sat atop the AL West. Yesterday I wrote that it may be premature to assume that the Mariners being division leaders on April 26th, 2016 was a significant fact. Today, I’m not so sure that I was right.
- Nathan Karns, inconsistent at this point, pitched his best outing in a Seattle Mariners uniform last night. Prior to his start yesterday, Karns had not made it past the 6th inning. His line: 7 IP 2 H 0 R 3 BB 6 SO 104 pitches (63 for strikes). We’ll ignore the walks for now, as they did not amount to much. Our #5 starter out-gritted the reigning AL CY Young award winner, our number five, let that marinate. Karn’s individual accomplishments were good in their own right, but more importantly he follows a trend of inspiring outings by Mariners starting pitching over the last week:
- We got our first run on Partay double plus a Nelson Cruz RBI single in the 4th, but the real scoring started in the 5th. My favorite #CatcherWhoRakes, Chris Iannetta, started things off with a walk dripping with OBP. Dae-Hoe Lee then gets an infield single on a ball that should have been a double play. Instead, by the the grace of the baseball gods, we had two men on and only 1-out. Seth Smith then walks to load the bases. Norichika grounds out into a fielders choice and Chris Iannetta is out at home. We are all worried that yet another scoring opportunity would be squandered. However, Ketel Marte with his new found confidence, was not worried as he singled in Dae-Ho Lee to make the score 2-0, Mariners. Robinson Cano’s jammed single goes over the head of Carlos Correa. Seth Smith had scored easily. Norichika was getting waved home over eagerly by Manny Acta and we’ve all seen how badly this can end (Rich I’m looking at you). By another divine intervention, the throw sailed out of reach of the catcher, 4-0 Mariners. Then some Robinson Cano base running weirdness goes on, Ketel Marte and his legs are running fast for home, Marte scores and Robbie is safe a second. 5-0 Mariners.
- Since were already on the topic of the 2016 AL MVP, let us all get out the rye bread and mustard and talk about Robinson freaking Cano. With the bases loaded and after a 9-pitch at bat, Robinson Cano blasts a grand slam to right center field and you could say I was a little excited:
- Final score: Mariners 11-Astros 1.
Yes folks, it is only April, but it is also tantalizingly close to May. The season is a 1/8th complete, and we are allowed to start feeling genuinely happy about the product that we see on the field. It also is understandable to want to remain skeptical in a moment of high emotions and overall happy feelings. My advice is *always* enjoy yourself in the present. Do not get caught up trying to rationalize what will happen next.
The Mariners could theoretically lose the next some odd games, and the general consensus would more less return to the same resigned apprehension that has colored most people’s views for the last decade. However there is the possibility that this the beginning of something new, a winning streak that could amount to proportions foreign to most Mariners fans. We will not know until it happens. What we do know, is on April 27th, 2016, the Seattle Mariners are the AL West division leaders and they are playing good baseball. This moment… this moment is good.
We’re going for the sweep against the Astros tonight. See everyone at Safeco.