In case you didn’t get to watch the game, the Mariners beat the Rays today 5-0. A first rate pummeling, right? Another awesome King Felix Day, right? A little payback for Erik Bedard’s shutout on Friday night, right? You didn’t watch the game did you?
These are the kinds of games I love. A classic pitcher’s duel between two pitchers, Felix and Chris Archer matching each other inning for inning. The M’s had a great scoring opportunity in the 5th when they loaded the bases with one out, but James Jones struck out and Robinson Cano lined a ball to the left field wall where Matt Joyce hauled it in. The Rays had their chance in the 7th against a tiring Felix. With one out Ben Zobrist singled, stole second and Felix wild pitched him to third. With catcher Mike Zunino blocking at least three balls in the dirt, any of which would have scored Zobrist if they’d gone through. Felix struck out Joyce and Yunel Escobar to set a career high of fifteen in seven innings.
With both lineups unable to do much, it was left to the bullpens. In the eighth it was Joel Peralta for Tampa Bay, while Lloyd McLendon sent out Yoervis Medina. While neither was flawless, both walked off the field at the end of the inning with zeroes on the scoreboard.
In the ninth manager Joe Maddon trotted out closer Grant Balfour and he was amazing, quickly striking out Dustin Ackley and Cole Gillespie. But something happened between Gillespie dragging the wood back to the dugout and the flailing Brad Miller stepping into the batter’s box. With Miller down 0-2, he bounced a ball over first baseman James Loney’s head into the right field corner for a triple. Willie Bloomquist walked. Endy freakin’ Chavez lined a pitch out of the strike zone just beyond the glove of a diving Escobar for a single to drive in Miller for the go ahead run. M’s in a position to win, right? You know the final score. James Jones lined a ball over right fielder Kevin Kiermaier’s outstretched glove to pick up Bloomquist and Chavez, and ended with a triple of his own. Robinson Cano walked and Kyle Seager followed with a two run double. All with two outs. Miller, Chavez, and Jones each got their hits with two strikes.
When Miller stepped into the batter’s box the Mariners were doomed to a battle of bullpens with the Rays. When Charlie Furbush walked off the field in the bottom of the ninth after retiring the home team in order, the M’s could leave the field grinning like devils who just sent their foes to hell, like pirates that just savaged a treasure ship and killed the crew, like a team of losers that suddenly found themselves four games over .500 with a 1.5 game lead over their closest competitor in the Wild Card race.
But the best thing about baseball? They get to do it again tomorrow.