I keep waiting for something to go horribly wrong. I wait anxiously for the moment that the baseball gods throw a big, fat middle finger to Seattle yet again. This team? How they’re playing? It is just almost too good. Many people who know me (or at least read what I write), know that I came into full Mariner fandom right around the end of the last era of justifiably “good” Mariners baseball. Even factoring in my age, I am well versed in the stories of the past. The stories of ’95 and ’01, the stories of Junior, Edgar, Moyer, Johnson and Buhner. These stories have been told time and time again, in an effort to placate fans of present, to remind them why they started believing all those years ago. They are the stories that many people tell their children, to try and forge a love that could not be rationalized based on the current state of the franchise…. At least, before right now.
That statement above many seem very silly to say with only 20% of the season complete, but I’ve heard online rumblings of this team playing very similar to the Mariners of 21 years ago. “Refuse to Lose,” was name and winning was the game. These 2016 Mariners are playing extremely fun baseball. Everyone is contributing, from the top of the order down, every guy is playing for the guy next to him. Baseball is not always fun. When it is, and when everything is clicking, it is an unquestionably good feeling.
Yesterday when the heartbeat of this team, Felix Hernandez, got knocked out after 4 innings, Nelson Cruz screamed in that dugout “We got this. We are going to win.” You cannot tell me that this team does not believe in each other. They want to be better than the past, and give the fans reason to believe in them again. Show me someone who does not believe this team is different, then I’ll show you a liar… or an Angels fan. Usually it’s one in the same.
Today, the Mariners very well could have lost the first game of this series against the Houston Astros. Jose Altuve continued to torment Wade Miley with a first inning home run. Robinson Cano singled in a run in the 3rd to even the score. Evan Gattis singled home a run in the 6th. Seth Smith singled home two runs in the 7th (his first hit against a lefty this year). In the top of the 7th, Jose Altuve hit a 420-ft double (because center field hill), and brought in the tying run. For many years, a tied game going into the late innings of a game was usually felt fairly disheartening. However today, or really any game over the last couple weeks, did not feel like that.
In the ninth, Leonys Martin hit a 1-out single and Norichika followed that up with a walk. There were two men on, 1-out and a very good and hot hitting Robinson Cano was up. He took the first pitch for a ball. The second pitch he saw, he did this:
Three. Run. Double. 6-3 Mariners. Steve Cishek came in closed the game in the bottom of the ninth, and the Mariners had their first 4-game winning streak since September 1st of last year. The Mariners have now won 6 of their last 7 games and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. They have a +32 run differential, a number that leads the American League. After 28 games in 2015, the Mariners were 11-17. After today’s game, they sit at 17-11, first place in the AL West by 2.5 games. Positive numbers don’t always translate to a positive overall performance on the field, but these numbers sure are fun to look at.
As mentioned earlier, it may be too early to assume that the 2016 Mariners can merit the same type of gritty success that the 1995 Mariners coined. However if it is the beginning… I know that we’ll be ready for it. I know that the fans have held on for the last 15 years will rewarded for their loyalty, and new fans with be birthed in the midst of the good fortune. If this is the beginning, we will be ready. Yes, the players deserve it, but the fans deserve it more.