Dave and Kevin’s big Mariner adventure

Starting pitcher Chris Young plays long toss in the outfield warming up for the game.
Starting pitcher Chris Young plays long toss in the outfield warming up for the game.

When my school colleagues gave me a big Mariners summer to help me recuperate from my cancer surgery I “had to” schedule some games and decide who to share them with.  The first person who came to mind was Dave, my dearest friend. Dave and I go way back and have a lot of things in common, including a love of games and baseball.  Another thing we have in common is summers off. Dave is retired from the Pierce County courts and I am a teacher doing little but relaxing.  So I bought tickets to the Atlanta Braves game at Safeco for Wednesday afternoon. 

I’ve always wanted to do the day game thing by catching the Sounder train up to King Street, spend the morning dorking around in Seattle, have an awesome lunch at Henry’s and walk over to Safeco Field to catch the game. Yesterday we did that. 

David made his way to my house at about 6:30 AM.  He hates driving in traffic and sure enough he was able to dodge most of it. We got everything ready to go, preparing the dogs for ten hours in their crates. 

Starting pitcher Chris Young plays long toss in the outfield warming up for the game.
Starting pitcher Chris Young plays long toss in the outfield warming up for the game.
Third baseman Kyle Seager and shortstop Chris Taylor finish warm ups near the Mariners dugout.
Third baseman Kyle Seager and shortstop Chris Taylor finish warm ups near the Mariners dugout.

The first step to taking Sounder to the Mariners game from Puyallup is getting to the station. Parking is a pain and the Puyallup Fairgrounds provides space for commuters.  I parked for free at the red lot and we connected with a Pierce Transit bus to the station.  Note to self:  The price of the bus is $2.50 not a buck as your pass-toting wife suggested.  Dopey me. Buying a ticket for the train is easy cheesy.  We each bought a day pass for $8.50.  Given the cost of gas and parking, and the hassle of searching for said services, this is a great deal.  We boarded the train at about 7:42 and arrived at King Street 30 minutes later. 

After grabbing something to eat we stopped at an awesome toy store at First and Occidental before making our way to Ebbets Field Flannels. If you love all things baseball EFF is not to be missed. They make custom minor league and Negro League jerseys, jackets and caps.  The variety of colors, patterns and different teams is staggering.  Not for the faint of wallet, most items have to be special ordered.  I bought a New York Knights cap based on the mythical team from the Robert Redford movie, “The Natural.”  Goofy, yes, but I confess to always having wanted one.  At least I stayed away from the jersey and the $395 jacket.

From there it was on to Henry’s for lunch.  When we left home the skies were pretty overcast and the weather was comfortable but cool.  When we left the restaurant and crossed Edgar Martinez Way it was bright sunshine and toasty warm.  We entered the stadium and headed for our seats, one of the few in the ballpark bathed fully in bright sunshine.  We were about to get cooked. David muttered something about Jeff Renner and mostly cloudy skies. Oh well, there are worse places to spend a hot summer day.

Center fielder Austin Jackson
Center fielder Austin Jackson
Right fielder Endy Chavez waits for the pitch.
Right fielder Endy Chavez waits for the pitch.

By the way, we watched a ballgame.  An awesome ballgame; the home team won on the strength of a couple of home runs and some great relief pitching. The Mariners were playing the Atlanta Braves, a team that has led the National League East for much of the season, but suffered it’s eighth consecutive loss yesterday.  They looked like a team that is playing poorly on this long West Coast road trip.  There were missed communications that led to runs Wedenesday on top of Tuesday night’s clanked pop fly off Bobby La Stella’s glove that cost them two runs and that game and both games in the short series. 

By contrast, the Mariners looked better.  I’d seen two of the three games against the Mets, when the M’s had struggled just to get base runners, let alone score.  In this game, the Mariners scored in the first inning when Dustin Ackley singled and Robinson Cano drove him home with a double.  Starter Chris Young got in trouble in the third inning when he gave up three singles and a walk to tie the score at 1-1. The next batter, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, drove a ball deep to left between new centerfielder Austin Jackson and left fielder Ackley. They seemed to struggle with the sun and the ball landed behind them for a ground rule double. but the bleeding ended there, 3-1 Braves.

Robinson Cano doubles home Dustin Ackley in the bottom of the first.
Robinson Cano doubles home Dustin Ackley in the bottom of the first.
Chris Young fires. Young pitched well enough to win the game despite his 3rd inning stumble.
Chris Young fires. Young pitched well enough to win the game despite his 3rd inning stumble.

The M’s took control in their half of the third when Ackley led off with a homer, 3-2 Braves.  That seemed to be the extent of things, when Kyle Seager singled to left, and was followed by an infield hit by Chris Taylor.  With runners at first and second and two outs, Logan Morrison, a general disappointment among many disappointments this year, poled a 1-2 pitch into the right field bleachers for a three run dinger.  M’s lead 5-3. 

From there it was all downhill.  The Mariners tacked on two more.  Young seemed to struggle in the heat a bit and only made it through five innings.  The bullpen corps of Joe Beimel, Tom Wilhelmson, Dominic Leone and Yoervis Medina did a great job of keeping the scuffling Braves away from further scoring and bingo, win number 59 was in the books.  The Mariners were only a game behind Toronto for the final Wild Card spot, and a half game behind Kansas City, with the White Sox blowing into town for four.  The final big news of the day was that Chris Sale pitched and would miss the Seattle series.  Whoopeee!!!

Dave and I let go of the Braves ninth inning and walked to the train and managed to board the Sounder moments before it pulled out of King Street Station.  We agreed it was a super day.  The train ride, the ball game, the weather (though we were both pretty sunburned,) was perfect. We agreed that next summer we’d try to see every Mariners weekday game by taking the train.

Notes on photos: All pictures were taken from our seats in left-center field using a Nikon Coolpix P510.  Though this point and shoot “bridge” camera doesn’t allow control over the shutter speed, it’s zoom lens gave me considerable ability to get good pictures from across the stadium.

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