Felix Day got off to a bit of a rough start tonight, with the Orioles offense producing early to bring in one run in the first inning, and Kevin Millwood holding us down 1-2-3-style in the bottom of the first. By the second inning Felix had settled down a little and was slowly creeping back to regular Felix form.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Rob Johnson took a single out of Millwood. With Jack Wilson up to bat, RJ took a try at a steal. O’s catcher Matt Wieters tried to get him out but overthrew, and Johnson got in safely, after debating third for a moment – thankfully, he didn’t take it. This must have rattled Millwood at least a little, because after tossing a curveball for a foul, he knocked Wilson on the right elbow. Wilson took his base, grimacing the entire way. Officials came out to check on his arm, and after it was determined he was OK, Ichiro’s name was called by PA announcer Tom Hutyler. Ichiro flew out, unfortunately, as did Chone Figgins, stranding both runners.
Kevin Millwood was basically ruling us with pitches in the 80s (his highest speed was 91) until the 4th inning, when we started making him work with over 30 pitches thrown. Rob Johnson and Jack Wilson suddenly decided to revisit their assault from last night, with a single and double RBIs, respectively. It has not escaped me that the Baltimore Orioles have twice fallen victim to the bottom of our batting order during this series. Incredible. We were able to put four on the board in that inning before Franklin Gutierrez flew out to left to end it.
With run support under his belt, Felix had a bit of a rocky 5th. At one point, after a Cesar Izturis bunt, both Felix and RJ went after the ball. Felix hit the deck to get out of the way, and Johnson tripped over him, falling in a heap, and then accidentally getting Felix in the head with his cleats. Not hard enough to cause injury, but it didn’t look like it tickled, certainly. Both men were fine, and got up to finish the inning and keep the Orioles run-free. Kevin Millwood was still on the hill in the bottom of the 5th, and had little trouble with us, still tossing in the 80s. In fact, Millwood lasted long into the game despite his 4 earned runs, pitching through the 8th inning with Matt Tuiasosopo as his last strike-out victim.
Felix also remained in the game, trying to take a little pressure off the bullpen, like he is wont to do. Nobody enjoys being taken out of the game, but Felix especially has demonstrated a real passion for being on the hill, even when the other team is chipping away at him. He complained when he was taken out during his last start, his lips easily readable on the FSN broadcast, and he noticeably strives for pitching full games, or at least taking on the 8th inning when he’s allowed to. I know others have been watching his progress far longer than I have, but it’s been nice to see him go from a name in the starting rotation to the FELIX! that everyone gets so excited about today. I’m definitely not saying anything that everyone doesn’t already know, but I’ve never said it, and it’s far overdue. Felix’s 8th was smooth like butter, and the Orioles still only had one run. I’m also very proud of Seattle fans for recognizing what we have in Felix – every time he comes off the field now, regardless of the reason, he gets a standing ovation from those in attendance. We do love our number one guy.
David Aardsma was shown warming up in the bullpen before the pre-9th commercial break, but he sure wasn’t on the mound when the broadcast came back on. Nope, it was Our Hero Felix, still on the bump, having thrown a little over 100 pitches, and looking as cool and collected as he did when he started the game. Chewing gum and with his hat characteristically cocked to one side as always, Felix dealt while the crowd stood and cheered. He took on the Orioles batters and got his first two outs. He managed a 2-1 count on Garrett Atkins, but Atkins took a chunk out of it, and it hit the ground in front of Franklin Gutierrez in shallow center field. Nolan Reimold managed to keep the game alive for two strikes and a foul before striking out swinging, giving Felix his second win, a complete game, and lowering his ERA to 2.20. Hot damn!
I’m a little thankful for the off day, to be honest. With my schedule (or lack thereof) what it’s been, I could use a day off to maybe go play outside somewhere. Friday we pick back up with a game against the Chicago White Sox, and an opportunity for me to see my beloved JJ Putz. Conor asked me during last night’s game if, when the Sox come to town, I will still wear my JJ jersey. The answer is a resounding, definite YES. He’ll always be a Mariner to me.
Sleep well, everyone. Chicago is last in the AL Central currently, but they still scare me a little. We are vying for position with the Angels, Oakland seems unstoppable at the moment, and we have work to do.