The Big Inning

Jeff Sullivan · May 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Most importantly

I don’t know a damn thing about Preston Claiborne. Never heard of him in my life. Until today, anyway, and now I can tell you that he’s a pitcher on the New York Yankees. A few years ago he was drafted in the 17th round. Today he retired Dustin Ackley for the third out of the top of the first inning. Another thing I know about Claiborne is that he wasn’t today’s scheduled starting pitcher for New York. That was Phil Hughes, and Hughes didn’t get scratched shortly before game time. He took the mound, and he yielded to Claiborne, after having registered two outs. He did not leave hurt.

Hughes was pulled after allowing seven runs on six hits, two walks, and a dinger. He faced ten batters and got two of them out. The dinger was a grand slam by Raul Ibanez, as he followed up yesterday’s also-impressive dinger, and though I’d rather have Ackley dingers than Ibanez dingers, I’d rather have Ibanez dingers than no dingers, and I’m not going to allow myself to overthink this. Instead of playing favorites, I’m just going to settle for the fact that the Mariners hit a grand slam and knocked out the Yankees’ starting pitcher in the first. That’s a good way to recover from last night’s crushing disappointment, or what must have felt like a crushing disappointment to the players. Seven runs in an inning for the Mariners is more than they’ve scored in all but six full games.

If the Mariners win — and they’re in good shape — they’ll catch the A’s for second place in the AL West. Of course, a better way to put it might be that the Mariners would catch the A’s for fourth place, with the Rangers occupying the first three places, but at least the Mariners are more or less meeting expectations, while the A’s and Angels are falling short of them. If you can’t climb the tree, maybe the tree will fall down. In a wind storm. This wasn’t well thought through.

Least importantly

It’d been a while since the Mariners knocked a pitcher out in the first inning. You have to go back to August 28, 2007, when the Mariners blitzed Ervin Santana. In the span of seven batters, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre tripled, Jose Guillen doubled, Kenji Johjima singled, and Jose Vidro and Raul Ibanez walked. That game was part of Lollablueza, and I remember standing and cheering in my room as Santana trudged slowly to the Angels’ dugout. That was one of the last times the Mariners played a truly meaningful baseball game with real playoff implications. Of course, after the Mariners went up 5-0, they scored one run the rest of the way, while the Angels scored ten. The Angels won 10-6, they swept the Mariners on the Mariners’ own field, and the Mariners found themselves in a tailspin that got humiliating before it ever mercifully ended. There are a bunch of ways to fall out of a playoff race, and the 2007 Mariners might’ve found the quickest. Because of course a seven-run first inning in New York had to come back to Lollablueza. You just couldn’t let me fully enjoy this, baseball.

This was the first time the Mariners have knocked a pitcher out in the first inning during the Jack Zduriencik Era, if you have a thirst for symbolism.

Somehow even less importantly

On April 9, Brandon Maurer got knocked around by the Houston flipping Astros, facing ten batters and getting two of them out. That was the 53rd time in Mariners history that a Mariners starting pitcher failed to make it out of the first. Today was the 54th time in Mariners history that an opposing starting pitcher has failed to make it out of the first. The Mariners are winning statistical competitions you didn’t even know existed. Granted, some of these were due to injuries, and not performance, but don’t examine too closely. Just be happy with the broken deadlock in the Mariners’ favor. Think about this the way you think about a Raul Ibanez grand slam. Which is to say, smile, and think about it only very briefly.


8 Responses to “The Big Inning”

  1. Kazinski on May 15th, 2013 6:28 pm

    I think Hughes was hurt

    I could see the pain on his face.

  2. juneau_fan on May 15th, 2013 7:54 pm

    I bet he had pain on his face.

  3. PackBob on May 15th, 2013 8:51 pm

    When’s the last time a pitcher came in in the first inning and threw 108 pitches in his first MLB game?

  4. Typical Idiot Fan on May 15th, 2013 9:13 pm

    That was a different pitcher. Brett Marshall came on in the fourth.

  5. scraps on May 16th, 2013 7:18 am

    Maybe PackBob got misled by I did:

    The Mariners chased Phil Hughes after he got only two outs in the first. Trying to preserve his bullpen, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had Brett Marshall throw 108 pitches in his big league debut, then brought in Gonzalez.

  6. Dave in Palo Alto on May 16th, 2013 10:21 am

    Most epic opponent-Yankee-pitcher-knocked-out-in-the-first was when the Willie Horton/Tom Paciorek M’s knocked out Tommy John, who was not a Phil Hughes disappointment. He came into the game 13-3, lasted a third of an inning.

    Even Mario Mendoza had two hits.

  7. Paul B on May 16th, 2013 10:21 am

    The thing I liked best is that the Yankees had a 6.5% chance of winning before they even came up to bat in the 1st.

    Regarding Gonzalez coming in to get the last out, I liked Blowers observation that those were at bats he hated the most, facing a position player. Kind of a no win for a batter.

  8. LongDistance on May 16th, 2013 12:04 pm

    When Ibanez Chooses To Rocket One Department:

    He did this facing a major league (even a who? one) pitcher having an outing resembling that of a Little League Inning (right down to the infinity ERA)…

    OK. Not thinking about it, not thinking about it…

    Go Ms. (Do people still say that???)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.