Baseball is back! The All-Star break is four days long, and that’s a long time for there to be no MLB games. All thirty teams returned to action last night for the first time since the break. The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels were so excited to be playing again that they kept going for sixteen innings. For a while it seemed the game would never end. Then the Mariners lost, ending the game.
As you might guess, this game was all pitching. Hisashi Iwakuma went seven innings, shutting the Halos out until the fifth, when Howie Kendrick, David Freese, and Hank Conger recorded hits in quick order to account for the game’s first two runs. Kuma didn’t walk anybody, again, and is limiting free passes like few pitchers before him ever have. He only struck out three, but that’s still infinitely more strikeouts than walks.
Jered Weaver finished six innings, but was pulled after allowing two runs in the seventh without getting any outs. Those were the first and only runs allowed by the Angels all night. The Mariners run scoring adventure went as such: Dustin Ackley doubles, Brad Miller singles in the first run, Weaver gets pulled, Mike Zunino grounds out, Endy Chavez singles in the second run. Offense! That was all the M’s got, in sixteen frames.
Robinson Cano had four singles and a walk, raising his average to .340. Mike Trout chipped in two singles, a double, and a walk for the Angels, so this game was really all starts. But Kyle Seager went hitless in seven at bats while striking out three times, and Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols combined for one hit and one walk in fourteen trips to the plate. So it wasn’t all the stars, it was just two of them. And everyone else sucked, on both teams.
Perhaps most interesting about this game was Tom Wilhelmsen‘s long and late relief appearance. The Bartender took the mound in the 12th and pitched four full frames. He threw 51 pitches, and this could be considered building up arm strength. Lloyd McClendon was quick to heap praise on Wilhelmsen as a starter after he opened the bullpen game last week, and here we saw him throw more frames than he did in that start. Oh, and those four innings last night? One hit, no walks, four strikeouts. I’d bet on him making the Tuesday start.
This game came to walkoff conclusion in the bottom of the sixteenth, as Mike Trout doubled and the Mariners lost their challenge asserting that he never touched first. Dominic Leone intentionally walked Josh Hamilton, so Mike Scoscia pinch hit PCL legend Efren Navarro for John McDonald. Navarro doubled home the winning run, and now his mythical AAA career has some big league flair to it.
A loss after sixteen innings feels different in that no matter the outcome, part of you is just going to be glad the game is over. The bullpen’s been stretched dry by that point and the lineup has been embarrassed, so it’s best to just get it over with and start looking forward. Today is Felix Day. Happy Felix Day! Felix Hernandez vs. Garrett Richards is a great-not-good pitching matchup that starts at 6:05pm tonight. Richards is better than you think he is, and hell, so is Felix. Noody except Felix really knows how good Felix is. So watch!