Friday, April 27, 2012

April 21, 2012: Mariners vs. White Sox

Last Saturday seemed like the perfect day to go to a M's game.   It was a beautiful, sunny day and uncommonly warm for April in Seattle.  Still a little chilly in the shade, but when the sun reached where we were sitting in the bleachers at around the 4th inning, with family and a friend along side and a Manny's in hand, things couldn't have been any better.

I had hoped that Fukudome would be in the lineup for the White Sox, and it seemed possible that he would be with a righty on the mound for the M's and it being a day game after a night game.  Yet, he never made an appearance, I'm not even positive Kosuke was there, he may have been enjoying Kirin and fried chicken in the clubhouse for all I know.  Munenori Kawasaki, was however, starting at shortshop for the Mariners and made a nice play in the 5th to throw out Alex Rios from the hole.  I didn't think he had the arm to pull off that play.

Obviously, the story of the day was the Sox's starter, Phil Humber.  He was mowing down the M's hitters from the start and using very few pitches to do so.  Around the 4th inning we started discussing how he had put down the M's lineup in order were trying to predict who it would be to break his perfect run.  I was thinking that it would happen in the 4th inning with the top of order coming up.  They had a couple of hard hit balls that inning, but Rios tracked down a drive from Dustin Ackley and the M's again went down in order. 

As the game continued to the 7th it started to actually feel like Humber was going pull off a no-hitter, maybe even a perfect game and that didn't appeal me in the slightest.  I may have been in the wrong, but I was rooting my damnedest for the M's to break it up.  Other fans at the stadium didn't feel that way, many began to root for Humber as he continued to be perfect into the 8th.  The 8th looked like our last good chance for a hit, as Michael Saunders, Miguel Olivo and Kawasaki were due up in the 9th.  Humber retired the 8th with ease, could this really be happening?  I didn't want to see my favorite team embarrassed like this.

The Sox got another run in the top of 9th to extend their lead to 4-0 and then the game flipped to the bottom of the 9th.  Saunders struck out to lead it off, then John Jaso came up as a pinch-hitter for Olivo.  He put up a decent fight, but sent a routine fly to right.  That brought up the M's final chance, Brendan Ryan pinch-hitting for Kawasaki.  The whole place was tense, most of the stadium was with Humber now and the pressure was on Ryan.  He got ahead in the count, then fouled a pitch to make it 2-2.  The next pitch was close, but outside and called a ball.  So it came down to a full count.  I can't remember if Ryan fouled a pitch first, but with a full count and the perfect game on the line Humber came with a slider several feet outside and in the dirt.  Ryan's bat barely came off he shoulder, but the home plate ump rang him up and while he was arguing the catcher threw him out at first.  I couldn't believe it, I was so pissed, the first thought through my mind was I just watched my team suffer the ultimate baseball embarrassment and I can't even enjoy it as a historic moment, because it isn't even a legit perfect game.

I got over it pretty quick, like I usually do, and now the M's are on a win streak so I guess it wasn't too devastating for them.  I still kind of wish it hadn't happened, but it did and I guess I'm lucky, not too many people have watched a perfect game live, and it's something I can always share with my family.  That's one of the great things about baseball, you never know what crazy thing might happen at any game you go to or watch.

There's a compilation of all the outs from the game in the Videos section here.  It's interesting that he had almost all strikeouts and flyball outs after the first inning.  I guess that says something about the Mariners' power or pitching in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.  Also, Kawasaki tried to get on with a bunt in the 6th, it's debatable whether that's a cheap move or not.

Brendan Ryan steps to plate in the 9th

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