Tonight’s game was one of those games where it feels hopeless throughout. Not because of anything in particular, but because we’re used to it. We’re used to the same story. Felix Hernandez throws a gem, opposing pitcher throws an equally impressive gem, Mariners offense can’t score, lose. That’s what it felt like sitting in the King’s Court tonight. We could feel the tension in the air. At any time, it could break, and the Angels would blow it wide open. But it was Felix’s night. It was the King’s night, and he wouldn’t let that happen.
With two outs in the top of the first, Felix started his dominant start with this sequence of pitches to Bobby Abreu.
All night, Felix pounded the strikezone with great stuff. Of his 109 pitches thrown, 80 of those went for strikes. Out of 51 swings taken against Felix, 13 swings missed. That’s a 25.4% swinging strike rate. Looking back at a previous post for comparison, Felix was efficient. It wasn’t Felix dominant like we know he can be, but he was staff-ace dominant, and that’s exactly what we expect every start with him.
So heading into the eighth inning, everyone was pretty down. The King’s Court had grown quiet. I couldn’t remember that last time Safeco prompted the crowd to clap, if it ever did until then. Trayvon Robinson came up to bat. We know he has some hidden power in there, and he’s shown the ability to make solid contact, but Dan Haren over-matched him and struck him out on four pitches. Ichiro Suzuki came up to bat. We know he has ability to make solid contact, but Dan Haren over-matched him and he flied out on three pitches. Oh boy. Franklin Gutierrez came up to bat. He’s been showing signs of his bat coming around, but Dan Haren over-matched him and he – oh wait! He singled into center-field on two pitches!
Dustin Ackley came up to bat and drove a single past Howie Kendrick, and Guti made it to third-base. The clapping started. Safeco started prompting. The King’s Court was fighting off Safeco – we wanted to do our own chants! Mike Carp came up and the King’s Court erupted. We knew what he was capable of, and everybody could feel that tension coming to a head. When he hit that double, the stadium was the loudest it was all night. Of course it would be, the Mariners took the lead! Felix had the Angels number, and he finally had a lead.
And that’s one of the reasons why we keep coming back. There was no reason for 18,000+ people to be at Safeco tonight other than: to be entertained by Safeco Field, to be entertained by the Seattle Mariners (doubtful to most), or for the love of the game. I feel like most people from Seattle are going just to go. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, we can change that attitude. We can go just for the love of the game. Moments like these are what the baseball fan lives for. The building of tension, the drama, the conclusion. The team had suffered for eight innings of non-existent offense. There had been missed opportunities, a la the bases loaded situation in the seventh, but that one inning changed everything. The entire state of the game was flipped. This is why baseball can be so great. This dichotomy of instant/non-instant gratification. Things happen so quickly, yet, at times they have a buildup that leads to said situation.
Either way, it’s getting late. I enjoyed the game, and I’m glad I got to enjoy one of the last King’s Court occurrences. I hope every Mariner fan gets to experience it at some point. Which brings me to this point: why not make the entire stadium have the same energy? The same passion? What can we do, as fans, to achieve this? Do we want to?
There are photos I took at the game after the jump. Please feel free to comment on them if you were there. Please feel free to comment on this post if you weren’t! We want to create an open forum environment for everyone to have a venue for their opinions. This is a safe place to express yourself.
I had a lot of fun tonight. I can’t wait until every night at Safeco is like this.