There’s nothing in baseball quite like the walk-off. It is the absolute peak of excitement that this sport has to offer, and no matter how many of them you witness, they never get old. This one was no exception – in fact, this one was especially fun because a) the Mariners are still in contention, b) it came on Felix Day, and c) it came from an unlikely hero. One of the only things that can make a walk-off win more fun is it coming from someone you wouldn’t expect, and who would you expect it less from than Brendan Ryan, the ninth hitter in a mediocre lineup?
Admittedly, when Saunders flew out to right-center for the second out of the ninth, I was pretty much ready for extras. Brendan Ryan has struggled mightily in the early going, and he already had one hit in the game, so I didn’t exactly love his chances against the flamethrower Matt Thornton. But that’s what makes baseball such a great game – any outcome, no matter how unlikely, can happen at just about any time – and sure enough, Ryan took the second pitch he saw and sent it sharply back up the middle for the game winner. Who would have figured?
- Felix was good. Felix was really good. Granted, this White Sox offense has been pretty awful thus far, but it isn’t completely made up of pushovers. There are still some threats in there, and while one of them, Carlos Quentin, got to him for a long ball in the seventh, he had very few issues in his complete game effort. He needed only 108 pitches to do it, striking out 6 and walking 2 along the way. He found himself in some trouble a few times, and there were periodic lapses in command, but as we’ve become so used to with Felix, he managed to battle through it. He wasn’t perfect, but this was yet another strong overall performance for Felix Hernandez. He’s a horse.
- Justin Smoak with another monster double, this one a line-shot to left center – the deepest part of the ballpark. He also drew a walk, as he continues to get on base at a fantastic rate.
- Chone Figgins also had a double and a walk. His line during this little Mariners hot streak: .361/.410/.472. Yes, we are talking about a small sample here, clearly, but it’s still a good sign. I may be the only one maintaining hope that he returns to Angels form at this point, but maybe, just maybe, this is an indicator of things to come.
- Milton Bradley got tossed for the second time this week late in the game, this time for arguing a third strike call. Solely because of his reputation, I can’t advocate Milton getting too visibly upset about any call. However, none of the three pitches called strikes in that at bat were actually in the zone, and I have a really hard time blaming the guy for being pissed. I would have been pissed too, Milton.
- With a win tomorrow, this team could be sitting at .500. Just take a moment to let that sink in.
This might be an exciting season after all, guys.