Well, that was interesting.
If you noticed, I stopped doing game updates in the seventh inning. Why? Well, you have to start writing for the newspaper when a game was dragging like today. One thing you have to do is start writing as if the outcome has been decided and then change according to.
So I went through four leads …
1. Felix didn’t bail the Mariners out, teammates couldn’t bail him out.
2. Felix couldn’t bail the Mariners out like usual, but his teammates bailed him out.
3. Mariners put up valiant effort despite a less than stellar performance from Felix and lose in extra innings
4. Mariners bail Felix out a little with a furious rally and Ryan Langerhans’ first career walk-off homer.
And all of that occurred in the span about 40 minutes.
The bad part is that because of the lateness of the game and our earlier deadlines, I couldn’t get any player reaction for the game story in the newspaper. But I got some for the blog.
“That was a battle,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “It would be a really easy for a club – when your ace goes out there and gives up some runs to just die and fold and give up. But we just battled and battled and what a way to win a ball game.”
Battled till Langerhans ended the battle.
Obviously, Langerhans was a happy guy. He got an ice cream pie to the face and a beer shower in the shower.
“It was funny I was trying to do it in the ninth and struck out,” Langerhans said. “And there I was just trying to get a base hit and keep the game alive, and I hit one out.”
That it came off of Howell seems pretty surprising, since lefties were just 16-for-61 against Howell with no homers this season. Langerhans had never faced Howell before. And asked Alan Cochrell for a quick scouting report. He told me, “he’s got a good curveball and he likes to use it.”
Langerhans fell behind 2-2, but didn’t look overwhelmed.
“I was just trying to see something up and hit it back up the middle, but I was lucky enough to get a hanging breaking ball,” Langerhans said.
Hanging might be an understatement, look at the pitch tracker.
So did he know it was gone?
“I was pretty sure when it came off the bat,” he said. “I saw that (Gabe) Gross didn’t break right away on it.”
Langerhans flew around the bases. There was no milking his home run trot.
“I was ready to get home and see my teammates,” he said.
Once he got there, he received the now traditional pummeling of head and body slaps from a circle of teammates. But nothing has felt better to Langerhans.
“It was great,” he said. “I’ve gotten to be the one slapping, but I’ve never got to be the one being slapped.”
Wakamatsu was quite pleased.
But he also delivered a bit of a reminder that Langerhans would have never gotten to the plate had Franklin Gutierrez, who already got the golden sombrero (four strikeouts in the game), not been able to coax a lead-off walk.
“He comes up there and battles Howell who is awfully tough,” Wakamatsu said.
Well Gutierrez got the benefit of a few calls, as Howell got squeezed a little by home plate ump Mark Carlson.
As for Felix Hernandez, Wakamatsu thought his stuff was there – but it was almost too good – which is part of the reason he couldn’t spot his two-seamer and Rob Johnson had trouble catching the ball at times.
But Felix did battle and get six innings which is something other pitchers might not do. And as Wak pointed out, the Mariners defense didn’t help him much early on.
“If we had made couple plays early on, the outcome could have been different,” Wakamatsu said.
But it’s nice to see Felix doesn’t have to do it all himself.
“Felix has picked everybody else a lot,” Langerhans said. “The way good teams work, when one guy has an off night, the others are there to pick him up.”
A few people tried to talk to Ken Griffey Jr. about hitting a homer on his bobble head night, but he wanted none of it, instead pointing to Langerhans locker, saying “there’s the guy you need to be talking to, not me.”
&bull Evan Longoria went 2×3, with his 31st multi-hit game of the season. Longoria is currently 2nd on the Rays in multi-hit games, behind only Carl Crawford.
&bull B.J. Upton stole his 35th base and went on to score in the 2nd. Upton currently ranks 3rd in the AL in steals.
&bull Carl Crawford went 3×6 with 1 RBI…ranks among American League leaders in hits (135), runs (70) and multi-hit games (43). Crawford is batting .332 (94×283) against right-handed pitchers this season. Also stole league leading 52nd stolen base.
&bull Pat Burrell went 1×5 with a home run, his 9th this season and 6th since July 5th. Since then he is batting .237 (22×93) with 6 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR and 16 RBI.
&bull Jason Bartlett went 1×6 with home run in the 11th inning.
&bull The Rays are now 5-3 after losing their 8th extra inning game.
&bull Tonight was the Mariner’s 9th walk-off victory this season and Ryan Langerhan’s first career walk-off home run. Langerhans has also recorded 2 walk-off singles while with Atlanta…7/08/05 vs. MIL and 9/7/05 vs. NYM.
&bull Felix Hernandez walked a season-high 6 batters, while also tying his career high. Despite command struggles, Felix pitched his team-leading 18th quality start and tossed over 110 pitches for the 9th time this season.
&bull On his bobblehead night, Ken Griffey Jr. went 1×4 with a home run. Jeff Neimann became the 401st pitcher for Ken Griffey to homer against. This season 11 of his 12 home runs have come off of first time victims.
&bull The Mariners are 4-1 on bobblehead nights this season and 12-8 since the first bobblehead giveaway in 2003.
&bull Russell Branyan set a career high with his 25th home run of the season. He is curently T5th in the American League in home runs and T12 in the Major Leagues. Last season the Mariner’s team home run leader, Adrian Beltre, had 25 throughout the full season.