Some Sights From Tuesday’s Mariners Home Run Class

Things last night clearly didn’t go as well as the night before, so let’s not talk about last night.

Tuesday, Daniel and I went to the early entry game for season ticket holders. We severely mismanaged the time, which put us nearly at the front of the line, where we stood for about 45 minutes, rather than the 10 we thought we’d have to. It’s totally fine, though, because during our conversation, I found out all about Beat the Streak, and now I really want to play.  When the gates opened and we were searched, scanned, and had a 50% off food and drink ticket given to us, the evening was on.

I grabbed a beer and a red whip for later with my coupon, and we sat down over right field in the corner to watch the guys warm up and much around on the field. From the very beginning, Tuesday night’s game felt positive. The guys were out stretching, playing catch, joking around with each other. Felix, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz were smiling and chattering away in Spanish, and with the roof closed in the lightly humid but still warm stormy weather, and pop music playing over the PA, it was a very happy mood inside the park. Pictures!

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For as reasonably OK as I am at taking pictures of pitchers in action, I haven’t mastered group warmups yet, and it’s hard to get everyone in the frame with all the sudden stopping and starting they do. Everyone seems to have their own rhythm and pace of stretching, so some were way out in front of the pack, while others hung out and chatted with each other. But it was all very laid back and easy.

IMG_6459IMG_6460IMG_6461Jeff Phillips, the bullpen catcher, and Felix have a moment on the grass. If you’ll remember, a few years ago, Phillips got married at Safeco Field to a girl he threw a baseball to with his phone number written on it. It was a human interest story in the Seattle Times early during the offseason – if I remember correctly – and it was very sweet. Phillips was involved in the gladiator bullpen of 2009, and he still parttakes in the ‘pen’s shenanigans now. I do mean to get back down there and take some film and such of that. Tuesday would have been a great day to do it due to low attendance mid-week, but we had to go eat dinner.

IMG_6462IMG_6463IMG_6464Happy Felix is the best Felix! It was at this point that the position players and pitchers sort of went their separate ways a little more and spread out over the field to take some at bats and shag flyballs. The pitchers stayed in front of us, though.

IMG_6465Tommy and Mark Lowe. I’m glad Lowe is back – even though he is not necessarily 2009 Mark Lowe. It’s nice to see a familiar face in the bullpen, of all places.

IMG_6467IMG_6468IMG_6469Mark Lowe and Joe Beimel – aka Wolverine – taking some throws…

IMG_6470Not the best shot of Tom Wilhelmsen, I suppose.

IMG_6474The FernandoCoaster!

IMG_6476Chris Taylor, over in the diamond. I only took this picture because Daniel was trying to figure out who it was in stirrups that was not Brad Miller. It came out well, so here you go.

The following group of pictures were my favorite to take…

IMG_6478IMG_6479IMG_6480IMG_6481IMG_6482IMG_6483IMG_6484IMG_6486Now imagine a lot of laughing, dekeing each other with lazy throwing, and Spanish discussion, and you kind of have an idea of the atmosphere. Light and fluffy.

At around 5.10, the gates would open and any hope that Daniel or I had for catching a fly or dinger into the stands was going to be taken over by smaller and more aggressive fans than either of us (with the exception of a few that went over our heads or right in front of us against the wall), so we went to The Pen for a bit, then we went up to Hit It Here for dinner. This was dinner for me:

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My food came independtly rather than together; the waitress had misheard me and thought I had ordered a cheesesteak rather than a burger – and I should have, it looked amazing when it showed up – but I stuck to my guns. That is a raw jalepeno slice. There was a hefty amount of gorgonzola cheese on the burger and more raw sliced jalepenos inside. I am a huge fan of spicy food, but I had to scrape off maybe a tablespoon of peppers from the bottom bun, and there were still a good tablespoon of them left. It was really good, but if they had maybe given the peppers a quick sautee’ or something it would have been much better, and taken a bit of the sting out. The salad was great, for a substitution for fries. I am a huge fan of blue cheeses, and even moreso of that and bacon. Good dinner all ’round. Daniel had fish and chips, which is pretty much always a good bet at Safeco.

After dinner, we wandered to our seats and after and adorable National Anthem from a children’s choir, Felix receiving an honorary plaque for his 2,000th strikeout, and some other pre-game goings-on, it was time to play ball. And wow did we play ball. The Mariners took the Padres to home run school, hitting 6 dingers over pretty much every wall of the park, including one that we thought was headed right at us until weight, weather, and velocity sent it into the Ms bullpen below our section. James Paxton got himself into and out of some jams, and all told lasted 6 full innings before being pulled for Danny Farquhar, who didn’t do so terribly well and was replaced with Tom Wilhelmsen before the 7th inning ended.

IMG_6488Dustin Ackley, ready for action in center field.

IMG_6489Paxton, in the throw.

IMG_6490Justin Ruggiano, replacing Ackley late in the game.

IMG_6491Mark Lowe comes into the top of the 9th to replace Charlie Furbush. I really wish we could have Fernando Rodney come in to situations like this. When the place is already amped up, it would be fun to turn it up to 11, but not having a save situation would make that silly, and it was nice to see Lowe on the mound in person again.

IMG_6492Lowe and Mike Zunino discuss their finishing moves before taking the Pads down. Sort of. Lowe was shaky and allowed a run (to Abraham Almonte!), but things didn’t collapse into a fiery nightmare, so one run is fine for the game. Maybe not so great for Lowe.

But Mike Zunino! I don’t even know where to start. Zunino hit two home runs Tuesday. TWO! His batting average was sitting around some .154 when the game started. Due to last night’s abyssmal team showing, it didn’t get much higher, but it’s now at .188. If he has to keep climbing slowly, at least he’s climbing. And that first bomb went all the way over the heads of the crowd in The Pen, landing on the concrete next to where Brad Adam and company do the pre and post-game shows. Impressive. Maybe that pitch was served weakly, I don’t know; but it was great to see Zunino get some power on. I still hold out hope that he will improve over the course of the year. It was a good night for him, and a great night for everyone watching the game.

We are headed into a series now with Boston. Four games, starting tonight. I don’t know much about the Red Sox this year, only what my friend Eric tells me, and that was nothing good. But I don’t trust any opposition. I mean, we scraped the Padres off the highway at 11-3 Tuesday, and they beat us 4-2 last night. Baseball is a funny thing. But that’s also what makes it so amazing.

 

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