I took CJ with me to Seattle, where I was giving a talk at the American Statistical Association meetings, and what luck — the Orioles were in town! So we took in this game.
- I’ve never seen so many Orioles fans at an away game. In fact, I kept seeing people in O’s gear all over Seattle. Are they strangely popular in the PNW? Or is it just that four years of winning has made it safe to wear orange and black in public?
- First trip to SafeCo, a great field on the underrated Miller Park model. The retractable roof here doesn’t open and close; it slides over the top of the stadium like an umbrella. When it’s open, the roof hangs over the railroad tracks adjoining the park, and when a train comes by, the whistle echoes off the roof into the stadium, and it is awesome.
- The Mariner dog is an unusually good ballpark dog. As big as a brat, nicely blackened, good snap. Well worth seven dollars. The signature SafeCo food — at least, everyone around us had it — was garlic fries. I’m sorry Seattle but these are not that good. Huge heap of fries with a bunch of minced garlic and parsley on top. Impressive to look at, but impossible to keep the garlic on the fries as you eat, and the fries get cold and depressing very quickly.
- Nice sunburned-looking blond couple in front of us turned out to be Dutch people whose son, they said, played for the Orioles in the Netherlands. What could they have meant? I think maybe he plays for these guys? But are they actually affiliated with the Orioles? Mysteries of honkbal.
- “Dad has to catch a fly ball in a cowboy hat to win him and his kid Mariners tickets” is a great pregame promotion. Every team should do this.
The game started out looking like a laugher; terrible defense and baserunning on both ends and the first inning ended with the Mariners up 4-2. Then nothing happened for a long time. Seattle’s Taijuan Williams wasn’t really dominant but the Orioles couldn’t really get a big hit. Tillman got hit in the arm with a batted ball, and was bad anyway, and was out after 2 1/3, but the usual succession of long relievers shut down Seattle. I told CJ “this team has an explosive offense and can score a bunch of runs at any time” and just then Adam Jones sneaked one over the left field fence to make it 5-4 and then Chris Davis came up. He has grown a super-weird mustache, which CJ and I had been admiring on TV at the end of the previous night’s contest.
Davis says it helps him hit home runs and I guess so because he immediately launched a no-doubter so far into right it could have beat Ted Cruz in a primary. Maybe the best home run I’ve seen since the grand slam Jim Thome hit against the Orioles at U.S. Cellular. Did I blog that? Oh yeah, I did.
So we’re tied at 5, and we go into extras, T.J. MacFarland coming in for his third inning of work. He faces the bottom of the order and loads the bases with one out. Britton pitched 1 2/3 the previous night and is unavailable. But you have O’Day warmed and ready. Yes I know you want to save him to close, but at what point do you bring him in? Would you rather lose with your best reliever waiting in the bullpen? That’s what happened; McFarland stayed in to face Austin Jackson, who lashed a ball that landed about a centimeter inside the foul line and that was the ballgame.
Unusually bearable loss; much easier to take than if the Orioles had laid down and accepted that they were going to get beat by the runs they allowed in the first.