I have a lot of excuses for not being around lately, and all of them are very valid – home improvement projects on a (self-imposed) deadline, the internet being down for the past 24+ hours, and work. The yard project I’ve been dealing with has been the biggest culprit, but I managed to get most of it done this weekend, so I’m feeling pretty decent accomplishment-wise. I didn’t really miss any games because of this, I just wasn’t able to pay as close attention as I would have liked to under normal circumstances. But I am well aware of how great the Mariners been doing lately, trust and believe.
Tonight’s game was preceded by the Minnesota Twins and their fans paying homage to the late Harmon Killebrew. I don’t know my baseball history well enough to know why Killebrew is worthy of a statue in Target Field, but he must have been a great player. From the short heartfelt speech that manager Ron Gardenhire gave before the game started, it sounded like Killebrew was also a well-liked member of the organization, active in baseball even up to his death at the age of 74. He’d just been at Spring Training with the Twins, and Gardenhire gave the impression that it had been inspiring for the team to have him there. The Twins will be wearing his number 3 on their sleeves, as well as the old uniforms from 1961, a salute to Killebrew’s glory days. I love seeing the various ways that teams honor their fallen; it’s a reminder that the sport is about so much more than winning or losing.
Things started out well for the Ms this evening, with an Ichiro walk and a Jack Cust home run right out of the gate in the top of the first inning. Denard Span got us back with a single homer, and we probably should have listened to that shot fired over the bow, because it wasn’t the last word from the Twins. Minnesota managed to tie it up in the 4th, then got the go-ahead in the 5th, then a nice Jim Thome bomb way over the wall in left field gave them a 3-run advantage. The Ms managed to get to Joe Nathan for two runs in the 8th, then evened it up in the top of the 9th, and sent the game into a 10th inning, where we loaded the bases up against Anthony Swarzak, and then Luis Rodriguez sacrificed a fly to center to bring a runner home. Brandon League came in for the save, and made easy work of his batters, giving us a win on a night where the Twins were obviously full of fight and playing for a win. Since it was a night to honor a former player, I feel a little bad about the victory, but at the same time, a) they would have done it to us, and b) we dropped our home opener, with all of its sweet sentiment to Dave Niehaus. These things happen. I can’t feel as badly for the Twins as I can feel happy for the Mariners. These wins are important not only for the standings, but for morale as well. We have a way to go before the All-Star break, but it’s good for the team to start getting these wins now, especially before they have to come back home and deal with the New York Yankees.
This last week has been good for the Mariners. Erik Bedard is still being healthy and impressive, Jason Vargas appears to have evened out and is back to being awesome, and Doug Fister is slowly but surely crawling back up the ladder. I know I should probably just relax and let the spectacle wash over me, but I’m constantly amazed by Michael Pineda. During a post-game interview from last week’s two-game Twins series, Shannon Drayer asked Pineda about Francisco Liriano, and it was obvious that Pineda was overwhelmed with a bit of idol worship. It’s nice to see young guys getting excited over the game. Acting like you’ve been there before is all very well and good, but it’s not very human, and it’s refreshing to witness that kind of glee from a professional baseball player. Plus, the boy can throw. I can’t tell a “diabolical” slider from the regular kind, but I do know that I’m glad that El Diablo is on our side.
I am also thoroughly enjoying Justin Smoak, Carlos Peguero, and I’m starting to dig on Jack Cust a little, too. Not just because tonight was his first home run, but because it seems like he’s starting to gel a little more as a hitter, as is everyone else. Brendan Ryan (and the slow return of his mustache) is also helping get me a little more jazzed about this season so far. I’m starting to think of these guys as Seattle Mariners, not just fill-in for the year, and that makes me very happy. This year was a bit awkward for me, because an influx of new faces is always sort of difficult to deal with, and we’ve never quite had this much change since 2007…or maybe we just haven’t had good change since 2007? Whatever the case, I’m getting used to it. The losses are still difficult to take, and this ascent may not last long, but this ride has been fun, and I’ll go as many times as I can. At this time in the evening, I don’t know if the standings have been updated just yet, but it appears that we are one win away from .500, and are 1.5 games behind first place in the AL West, on a 6-game winning streak. I am both terrified and exhilarated!
Hoping to get another solid night of good sleep, a relaxed day of work tomorrow, and another win tomorrow night. Go Ms!
EDIT: Yes, I realize that a one-run game isn’t technically a “trounce”. But a 15-hit game with extra innings and all the drama of tonight felt trounce-y. Sue me.