It's been a miserable season for the Seattle Mariners and that's being kind. The team many predicted to represent the American League hasn't pitched well (other than Felix Hernandez), hasn't hit well (except Triple Crown candidate Nelson Cruz) and certainly hasn't clutched up (Dear Lord, that bullpen house of horrors).
I didn't turn the game on until the seventh inning. I mean, I'm a Mariners fan back to the days of Ruppert Jones and Julio Cruz, but I gave up on them several weeks ago, plus I have a job to do and that means watching other teams and other games. But I saw the alerts on TV, turned on my iPad, called my wife into the office for the ninth inning, watched Kyle Seager make a difficult catch against the railing, saw Iwakuma get Manny Machado to ground out to third on an 0-2 sinker and then barely had time to catch a breath before Gerardo Parra flew out to center field on the first pitch. I watched the Mariners mob Iwakuma, Fernando Rodney bow instead of slinging his imaginary arrow, King Felix hug his teammate while wearing a Kuma bear hat given away at games. I saw Mariners fans the happiest they've been in a long time.
It was the first no-hitter in the American League since Hernandez threw his perfect game in August of 2012 -- the previous 12 all came in the National League -- and the fourth of 2015, joining Cole Hamels, Max Scherzer and Chris Heston. At 34, Iwakuma became the oldest pitcher to throw one since Randy Johnson in 2004.
It was also a little bittersweet. Back in March, the Hernandez-Iwakuma duo projected as one of the best in the league. After all, Felix was coming off maybe his best season. Iwakuma was one of the most underrated pitchers in the league, a guy who had gone 38-20 with a 3.07 ERA over his three seasons since coming from Japan. He's doesn't have a big fastball, but few pitchers know how to mix and match like he does -- moving his fastball around the zone and elevating it, keeping batters guessing with his curveball and slider, getting groundballs and strikeouts with his splitter. No two pitches the same.
But Iwakuma got hurt and missed all of May and June. James Paxton got hurt. Taijuan Walker has been inconsistent. The bullpen, the best in the majors in 2014, completely imploded. The Mariners probably would have traded Iwakuma at the trade deadline since he's a free agent after the season, but ownership nixed that according to reports. Maybe they'll consider keeping him worth it. Maybe he'll get deal in a waiver trade. Maybe the Marines re-sign him in the offseason.
But that's for another day. This is a day to celebrate. No-hitters never get old. The Mariners are 54-61. Hey, go on a 15-3 streak now and you never know ...
the happiest picture of the day pic.twitter.com/AUQWb9wF8K— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) August 12, 2015
"I'm just glad it's over with, because I had to pee since the 5th inning." -Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon on no-no pic.twitter.com/910vH3NM0v— ESPN (@espn) August 12, 2015