It has been one special month for all of us long-suffering Mariner fans, especially this last week. The King’s perfect game, and the crowd all holding yellow ‘K’ signs and cheering like it was 2001 or 1995 again. Nine wins in the last ten games, incredible catches, key hits, walk-off victories but most of all some hope, some actual hope, that Safeco would return to its glory days and some of our young kids would become real players.
Well, after Adam Dunn smashed a couple of Jason Vargas pitches deep into the stands our balloon lost some air and it looked like our team had come back to earth. I was in the other room on the computer and heard that Jesus Montero had hit one out. I hustled out to catch the replay. I popped a beer and took my usual seat, hoping that the Mariners could score a couple of runs and make it respectable. Eric Thames popped out and Justin Smoak drew a walk. Trayvon Robinson, who seems determined to take over the left field job, smacked a double, his third hit of the night, and I thought great perhaps we can score another run or two but I wasn’t very confident as the struggling Brendan Ryan came up to bat. He drew a walk and Dustin Ackley, who has been heating up lately, came up and sneaked a hit past a driving Konerko and two runs scored as Ryan hustled to third. “Hmmm…well, this is great; they at least cut it to 7-5,” thought I.
Michael Saunders came up and a tying homer was not out of the realm of possibilities. He drew a walk and up came Kyle Seager. “Wow, a hit here could actually tie it up.” Seager missed a couple of centered fastballs and fouled then both off to get behind in the count 0-2. He connected with a deep fly to center that I thought might be real trouble for a moment but it was caught for out number two. Ryan did tag and scored to make it 7-6. John Jason and his scraggly, nasty-looking beard came up. There was no way he could come through again, I figured, as he was way overdue to make an out in one of these pressure situations. But hey, I was having fun watching it all. He also fell behind 0-2.
When he took the next pitch and lined it over the second baseman, I jumped up, spilling my beer and let out a scream. Unreal! But what was unreal was Saunders sprinting around second and heading for third. When the throw was wild and got away and he scored, I assert that I heard Dave Neihaus’s classic call of :“My-Oh, My! I don’t believe it!” I am not kidding and I swear that I had only sipped one beer.
Montero came up with Jaso on second, was too pumped up and struck out. I was stunned. What an epic comeback. Just how special? The six runs were the second most runs ever scored in the ninth inning in Mariner history. Seattle had only scored a total of 33 runs in the ninth inning the entire season.
The most runs ever scored in the ninth happened May 21, 1990. The Mariners were behind Milwaukee 4-1 and scored eight, the last three on a homer by Edgar, to win 9-4. They scored six last year in the ninth against Detroit but were already ahead 4-1. The six runs made it a 10-1 victory last April 27th. They scored six against the Blue Jays on April 15th of 2000 to add to their safe 11-6 lead to win 17-6. They also scored six in the ninth in 1996 but were ahead 5-2 to make the final 11-2. On September 9, 1978 they scored six against the White Sox after trailing 4-3, to win 9-4. They have scored five runs in the ninth fourteen other times in history.
If you were watching, remember this game as it was the largest comeback in the ninth in the entire 5,000 + game Mariner’s 34-year history and you saw it live. I fully understand that Tom Wilhelmsen blew the save and the Mariners lost tragically but that was incredible also. What a fabulous catch by Eric Thames and who could fault Saunders for flying over there like a super hero? Yeah, I felt like my puppy had run off for a few seconds but it didn’t last.
I haven’t spilled a beer watching the Mariners since Edgar’s famous double in 1995. I’ve thrown a few, I must confess, but perhaps those days are over. “My-Oh-My!” Damn that was fun! Jaso is not allowed to shave his beard, do we all agree?