A Game for the Future (and Today)
Aug 21, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley (13) runs to home plate on his way to score against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at O.Co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight’s game gives us a very optimistic glimpse into what the Mariners could- could being a word that deals in hypotheticals and potentiality- look like not only in 2014, but into the foreseeable future. A number of those young guys who either are now proving themselves or are re-proving their worth to the Mariners stepped up tonight.
Taijuan Walker, the Fresh Prince of Seattle (to Felix Hernandez’s ‘King’ and Hisashi’s ‘Kuma’), made his major league debut tonight. He pitched 5 strong innings, giving up 1 UN-earned run and one walk while striking out two. He did allow two hits, however, though each of the two deflected off of the gloves of his own teammates. Walked kept the ball down throughout his outing, located his fastball well, and is giving fans an idea of what the Mariners’ 1-2-3 punch could- could– look like next season. It could very well be devastating.
But Walker wasn’t the only youngster stepping it up. Brad Miller went 2-5 with a stolen base, and made some solid defensive plays at short. Smoak chipped in three walks and a hit, and Seager checked in too with a hit and an RBI.
Still, though, other guys were involved.
Recent call up Abraham Almonte made his ML debut as well. He did get his first major league hit out of the way, along with 2 RBIs to contribute to the 7-1 victory. He also flashed his speed from home to first, beating out a routine double play ball to allow a run to score. Likewise, he is quick to swing hard at a fastball, which is good to see such confidence and aggression in a newbie.
Last, but not least, Dustin Ackley HAD A GAME. Ho-hum he went 4-5 with 3 singles and a helluva triple, while driving in a meager four runs to lead the Mariners to victory. And to end the fifth inning, Walker’s last inning of work, Ackley decided to do this, robbing an Astro of extra bases deep in center field. With a batting average now at .261, Ackley is finally starting to cement himself into the ‘Mariners’ future’ discussion.
And aside from Franklin tonight, who went 0-5 with a strikeout, the Mariners showed their fans the potential of this team. If they can gel in the offseason, if they can add a heavy stick in the outfield, if they can shore up that bullpen, next season and seasons to come could be very exciting.
The operative word is could. Talk is cheap until they actually make it happen.
So don’t hold your breath M’s fans, and wait patiently and piously for the Mariners to storm back into the ‘contender’ conversation. Maybe this time next season, a spot in the postseason will be on the line.
P.S. I love the Fresh Prince’s hairdo. And his nickname. And his charming smile:
Feb 19, 2013; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker (68) poses for a picture during the Mariners photo day at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports