Raise your hand if you saw this coming …
Sometimes sports just flat out surprise you. Sometimes teams do the unexpected. And sometimes you should just enjoy it when your team is the one doing the surprising.
Tonight’s 2-0 tight-rope victory over the Red Sox makes it five straight for a Mariners club everyone was writing off before this season had barely started … and for good reason.
Two weeks ago, the Mariners offense was awful, their bullpen suspect and their hopes waning. But five straight road wins at Detroit and now Boston — with Felix Hernandez taking the hill Sunday — have given Seattle nine wins in its past 14 games.
And instead of sinking slowly to oblivion, the Mariners are suddenly just 3 1/2 games back in the AL West and at least in position to make things interesting again if they keep playing well.
Ichiro Suzuki told Japanese reporters tonight these were the kind of games that just didn’t happen a year ago, the club getting all the needed breaks as Boston came up empty time and again with runners in scoring position.
There was a certain amount of good fortune involved, but I’ll tell you something else. Doug Fister is one tough son of a gun and his fire is contagious. And respected.
“Straight Fresno State Bulldog,” said Jack Wilson.
While he’s a quiet man off the field, Fister gets fired up when his teammates make plays. And he’s quick to credit them afterward.
“This was all about the offense getting on the board early and more importantly, the defense,” Fister said. “That’s the defense we play, that’s our game. I don’t know where to start. Whether it’s Olivo diving into the stands catching balls, Smoak doing the same thing, Figgy making the diving catch at third base. That’s every pitcher’s dream, to have the defense play all out, every out.”
Yeah, something interesting is happening with these Mariners. Who knows whether this team will continue playing this well, but at least now we know they’re capable of playing winning baseball and competing.
Their bullpen has been excellent (14 1/3 straight scoreless innings on this trip), the offense is improving with Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo producing in the middle and the starting pitching is better than expected with Michael Pineda throwing extremely well, Fister and Jason Vargas holding up well and Erik Bedard coming off a strong outing. Then there’s that Felix guy, of course.
So we shall see. It’s a long season with many twists and turns. But this particular turn has at least made things interesting again for the Mariners. And that’s something none of us were sure we’d see.