It’s been over a month, but the sweep is now complete. We celebrated it as a sweep the first time around, even knowing that it wouldn’t be until June 2nd when we’d know for sure. That day has come and gone, and the Seattle Mariners have officially wrapped up a three game sweep of the New York Yankees. They did it in spite of a day lost to rain, and they did it with Felix Hernandez on the mound.
Felix at Yankee Stadium has become a thing of legend over the years, and it’s no secret why. There have been two critical factors: New York’s longstanding and obvious lust to steal him away from the pacific northwest, and his outright dominance in the Bronx. In the pre-extension days, every column ever written by every sportswriter on every planet was about how the Mariners were just being idiots by not dealing Felix to the Yankees. The Mariners obviously still have Felix, and are all the better for it. Felix has been historically great at Yankee Stadium, so that’s two middle fingers for the Yanks.
The King’s string of dominance is still alive and well, as Felix pitched brilliantly again in New York. Over seven innings, Hernandez struck out eight and walked nobody. He labored throughout, giving up eight hits for two runs. His pitch count was 111 when he was relieved of his duties for the day, yet he did his part and then some in keeping runs off the board. Ichiro, of course, drove in the only two runs for the Yankees on a single that scored Yangervis Solarte and Brian McCann. Solarte had reached on a double, which was the only extra base hit allowed by Mariners pitching on the night.
Obscured by the score is the fact that this was not a cruise for King Felix. This game was tied at two from the fourth inning through the sixth, and Felix only got to breathe during his final frame. The Mariners got their first run in the second after Kyle Seager‘s first triple of the day (more on that guy in a minute) and Mike Zunino‘s single. They got their second run after Seager’s second triple and a groundout from Dustin Ackley. The rest of the runs came late. But you want to hear more about Kyle Seager first.
Kyle Seager’s night: triple, triple, lineout, double, three-run home run. That’s four extra-base hits, which is tied for most ever in Mariners single-game history. The first triple was clean, but the second was essentially a gift from Derek Jeter. So nice of the captain to give a gift, given all the ones he’s been receiving from opposing teams and the undeserving all-star start the fans are poised to award him with. Jeter meandered towards the ball after it careened off a diving Brett Gardner. By the time Jeter realized it was in play Seager had an easy three-bagger. The home run came with two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth, and it was ginormous. Usually this day is reserved for Felix praising. Today? All hail Kyle Seager. Twelve total bases. What a gem.
Backing up a bit, the M’s had themselves a nice four-run seventh. Zunino doubles, Ackley walks, Endy Chavez reaches on a sac bunt, and Brad Miller splits the gap with a two-run single. He’s alive, and there’s nothing happier to see than that. That was enough to chase David Phelps, who had been doing fine until that point. James Jones bunts to move the runners forward, Michael Saunders singles to score two more. Great strategy, and great execution. This was a very neat, effective, inning.
The ninth was messy, but the good kind of messy. The mess was Alfredo Aceves, who got the first two outs with ease and then watched the next four men reach and score. Saunders hit a homer, Robinson Cano singled, Justin Smoak singled, and Seager hit his moonshot. Zunino flew out to end the inning, but that’s not what people are going to remember tomorrow and going forward. They’re going to remember Aceves being awful, which, good.
29-28, +21 run differential. The Mariners have a better run differential than the Tigers. They’ve got the same record as Texas, and the same number of runs scored, but have allowed 44 less. The Mariners are in a three-way tie with the Rangers and Orioles for the sixth-best record in the league, but both those teams have been outscored on the season. They’re half a game behind New York for a playoff spot, and the Yankees too have been way outscored this year. Look at the roster and you see Endy Chavez, starting outfielder. Look at the roster relative to the league and you see Seattle Mariners, very real playoff contender. It’s exciting. Terrifying, but exciting.
Next up is an NL rules trip to Atlanta, with Erasmo Ramirez rejoining the big league team to take on Gavin Floyd and the NL East leaders. The Braves are once again pacing the division after being a near-unanimous pick for second place. The Braves are never bad, and also apparently have the sorcery needed to turn Aaron Harang into an all-star at the mere mention of the phrase “two young ace-calliber pitchers lost to the year during spring training.” Ramirez really hasn’t earned his return to the bigs, but he’s not Brandon Maurer and he’s not hurt, so it makes sense why he’s back. Another weird 4:10 start time. Wild and wacky coast, the east is.