The sequence would have been sweet against any opponent.
Since it was the Houston Astros, baseball’s loathsome varmints who are also perhaps the game’s best, the sugar overload from the Mariners’ Monday night preposterousness was a threat to every pancreas gland in Pugetopolis.
To be down 7-0 and to win 11-8 (box) on a grand slam by a backup guy, Dylan Moore, batting .188, well, it was the living perambulation of the dream of every seven-year-old who sleeps in his uniform.
Let J.P. Crawford explain the moment, from his perch in the on-deck circle.
“it was chaos in stadium,” he said, beaming. “It was chaos everywhere. I blacked out. I was screaming. I turned around and yelled into the brick fence thing. Oh my goodness.
“You just dream of it when you’re a little kid in the batting cages. Then, finally doing it on the big stage. You have a bad man, plain and simple.”
As if Moore’s career-first salami wasn’t tingly enough, Crawford stepped into the batter’s box as the crowd of 15,162 was still swooning.
On a fourth consecutive inside pitch from lefty reliever Brooks Raley, who had given up Moore’s upper-deck immensity, Crawford was struck on his right shoulder. The crowd returned to its feet hollering, as did Mariners manager Scott Servais. A TV camera caught the mild-mannered Servais raining F-bombs on the umpires, including a demand of plate umpire Quinn Wolcott that he commit an impossible act.
Perhaps considering the potential for riot following an ejection of the home manager, Wolcott, after a conference with the crew, let Servais’s profane oration slide and ejected Fraley for delivering a payback pitch.
The anger dissipated in Servais. Not the post-game joy.
“I can’t say enough how fun this group is to be around — the energy, the work they put in every day,” said Servais, choking up a bit. “You could talk all night long about that game and everything that went into it, but you really have to start with the the heart of this ball club. They truly believe they’re playing for something bigger than themselves. They believe in each other and are growing confidence in all parts and all facets of our game.
“Our players are really into it. They can’t wait to get the ballpark every day. It’s fun to watch.”
It wasn’t fun to watch the first inning.
Darren McGaughan, making his MLB debut as an emergency starter for the arms-starved Mariners, gave up six runs to the savvy Astros lineup. Yet the comeback began with him, because he gained control of his nerves and pitched three scoreless innings to avert wear on the bullpen. The relievers came on to hold MLB’s best offensive team to two runs over the five final innings
Then came the astounding rally, chunky-style.
In the fourth, rookie C Cal Raleigh hit a three-run double into the right center gap. In the fifth, 3B Kyle Seager hit a three-run homer to right. In the sixth, Shed Long put up a skinny number with a run-scoring single to close the margin to 8-7.
Servais recalled the mood in the dugout: “Players were standing next to me saying, ‘We’re gonna win this. We’re gonna win this.'”
In the eighth, DH Ty France led off with a bloop single to right. After two outs, CF Jerred Kelenic drew a full-count walk. Houston manager Dusty Baker brought in Raley. Servais had Tom Murphy pinch-hit for Long, and drew a walk.
Bases loaded for Moore. In his words, he delivered “the best moment of my baseball career so far.”
He turned on a cut fastball on a 1-1 count and sent it 395 feet into left field’s upper deck.
“In situations like that, with the crowd the way it was, I was just thinking that the pressure is on (Raley) and not so much me,” Moore said. “He’s the one who’s got to come out and throw me strikes. So I’ve just got to be able to be on time and hit a good pitch. I was able to do that.”
A lot of the current players were not on the team in 2019 when Houston, which won the 2017 World Series partly through an elaborate, shameful sign-stealing scheme that had yet to come to light, won the season series with Seattle 18-1. Servais remembers, which made the comeback all the richer.
“I think everybody jumped up, hands in the air,” he said of Moore’s homer. “You go through seasons and you have big wins, coming from behind. This is special. You’re at home, and in the standings, you’re fighting for something against the first-place team. So this one’s pretty darn special.”
Especially since after the 6-0 deficit, he said began calculating whether he would need to put a position player on the mound to finish the anticipated large defeat.
Even he can’t keep up with what his players are doing. It’s enough to make a grown man snuffle up.