Results tagged ‘ AL ’

Davis Launches 51st Homer, Makes Orioles’ History

Chris Davis blasted his 51st home run of the season off of Ryan Dempster during Tuesday night’s game against the Red Sox, making him the new Orioles’ record holder for most homers in a single season; breaking the old record of 50, posted by Brady Anderson in 1996.

With that game-tying, solo-shot home run, Davis also tied Anderson’s franchise record for extra-base hits in a year with 92 — both Davis’ HR and extra-base numbers lead the Majors, to go along with a .293 batting average — and joins Babe Ruth and Albert Belle as the only players in MLB history with 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a season.

Needless to say, Davis is having an incredible year.

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And he’s not alone.

In addition to Davis, the Orioles have their young phenom, Manny Machado, — currently tied for most doubles this season with 51 — playing tremendously, as well as Adam Jones, who is having another great season. Combine it all together, and you have a very potent lineup.

But despite the great team the Orioles have, they’re still fighting to make the playoffs, as they currently sit two games back of the second Wild Card spot, held by the Rangers, with just twelve games remaining.

Part of that has to do with the Orioles’ pitching, which hasn’t been extremely great all season long. For me, if they miss the playoffs it’s going to be because of their pitching staff.

Therefore, while not impossible, it’s going to take a lot of production, and a bit of luck, from everyone on the squad. Davis is certainly giving it his best shot, as he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

That’s bad news if you’re Miguel Cabrera — or if you’re just rooting for him. Although he leads the Majors in batting average and RBI’s — just one more RBI than Davis — Davis is leading Cabrera by eight home runs. With so few games left, it’s going to take a power surge from Cabrera, and a power outage from Davis, for things to work out — not likely to happen.

But while you’re probably not going to witness history, in Cabrera becoming the first player to ever win back-to-back Triple Crown awards, you’re getting the privilege of seeing one of the game’s best sluggers put on an amazing performance.

No matter the outcome of the season, 2013 will go down as a memorable year for Chris Davis and the Orioles. A year which included an exciting playoff chase, as well as one that could end with Davis receiving a major award: The American League M.V.P.

Mariano Rivera Honored In Final Game At Fenway Park

It’s well known that the Yankees and Red Sox have been big-time rivals for years, but that didn’t stop the Red Sox from honoring the great Mariano Rivera before Sunday night’s game versus the Yankees.

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Commemorating an incredible career, on the night that will likely go down as Rivera’s last game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox joined the list of teams that have given Rivera gifts throughout the season, in this his final year.

Nothing new, but the Red Sox’ ceremony might have been the most impressive of them all.

After a brief video was played, remembering October 17, 2004, when Rivera blew the game to the Red Sox — “less of a toast and more of a roast,” as Dave O’Brien put it — Rivera was given the following: A painting of himself, from David Ortiz; the number 42 sign that had been posted on the ‘green monster’ every time he made an appearance, from Dustin Pedroia, signed by the whole team; a blue 1934 Fenway Park seat with the number 42 on it, from Jon Lester; and the visiting bullpen’s pitching rubber, with an inscribed plaque, from Koji Uehara.mariano-rivera-at-fenway-park

Perhaps none of these gifts were as great as the chair of broken dreams Rivera was given up in Minnesota earlier this season, but the Red Sox did one of the better jobs of paying tribute.

Rivera saw a lot of Fenway Park over the course of his Hall of fame career, pitching there in 60 games — more games than any visiting relief pitcher in the park’s history.

When you’re talking about a ballpark that’s over 100 years old, that alone makes you aware that Rivera is someone special. And therefore, with plans to retire after this season, it’s important to enjoy Rivera’s greatness in the little time that remains. Players of his caliber don’t come around too often.

However, stating that “hopefully it’s not the last time”, in response to playing at Fenway Park, Mariano continues to remain optimistic of the Yankees’ fate for the 2013 season. Though it’s going to take a lot for them to make the postseason, as the Red Sox swept them in their recent series, certainly not helping their cause any. But if there’s a team that can do it, I believe it’s the Yankees.

For Mariano Rivera’s sake, I hope they can.

One of those players that you never want to see retire, Rivera isn’t just the best closer the game has ever seen — the record holder for most saves, with 651 — he’s one of the best people the game has ever seen. Carrying himself with class everywhere he went, Rivera is well respected by baseball fans around the country — even fans of the Red Sox. The last player to wear the number 42, Mariano is truly a remarkable player and person.

Rivera has had his share of ups and downs this season, but overall it’s been another stellar year. Whether or not the Yankees can make the postseason, and eventually return to Fenway, is yet to be seen, but Rivera made sure his gratitude was known, saying, “I definitely appreciate what the Red Sox organization did. I will never forget that.”

And we will never forget Mariano Rivera — the greatest closer in baseball history.

Final Baseball Game of the Year for Me

Tonight’s Bulls game versus the Pawtucket Red Sox will be my final game of the season.

The Bulls are in the final round of the Governors’ Cup Playoffs, against Pawtucket, in a best three out of five series, to determine the winner of the International League, and after Wednesday’s game, won’t play at the DBAP until April of next year.

Starting for the Bulls, in tonight’s game one, is their Ace, Jake Odorizzi, who has been outstanding all year; even more so in his past two home starts. On the mound for the opposing Red Sox is Anthony Ranaudo, who has also had a great season and is subsequently sure to pitch a great game.

As with any game I go to, I’m looking to try for autographs. Mainly, at this game, I’m hoping to get an auto from Pawtucket’s Matt Barnes and Bryce Brentz. Earlier in the season, when they first came to Durham, the Sox had Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Allen Webster on the roster, but I wasn’t able to attend, as I was across the country in Seattle — they’re all in the majors now.

But in the end, with two great pitchers, along with two outstanding teams, it’s sure to be an exciting conclusion to the season for me, regardless.

Overall, it’s been a really fun year, and I’ve been able to attend more baseball games (mostly minor league) this season than in all of the other years of my life combined; including a game at two different MLB ballparks (Safeco Field and Camden Yards) — the first time I’ve ever done so in the same year. Truly something when you think about it.

I’ve seen numerous MLB top prospects — Nick Castellanos, Billy Hamilton, Wil Myers, Francisco Lindor, Jameson Taillon and Courtney Hawkins, to name a few — and have gotten a good deal of autographs this season. (I plan to post a recap of it all in the next week or so.)

But as fun as this year has been, I’m already looking ahead to next season.

The Bulls are set to host the 2014 AAA All-Star game, in July of 2014, and I’m fully planning to attend. With so many top prospects in one place, it’s any autograph collectors’ dream. The festivities are also going to include a Home Run Derby, showcasing some of the best sluggers on the Triple-A level; many of which will become big league stars. So, obviously, that’s something to be excited about.

In addition to my readiness for the 2014 MiLB season, I’m also looking forward to the 2014 MLB season, as the schedule for each team is set to come out later today. I’m sure I’ll make it to one or two games next year — which games is yet to be determined — and therefore, I’m going to study the schedules to plan out which teams I’ll be seeing.

But even with the season almost over for me, there’s still tonight’s game left to be played.

And I’m going to make the absolute most of it.

Chase for the Second American League Wild Card Spot

The Athletics currently hold a rather large lead in the Wild Card standings for the American League, so if any non-division-leading teams in the AL want to make the post season, it will likely have to be through the second Wild Card.

The Yankees, Orioles, Indians, and even the Royals, are the teams that currently still stand a chance of taking over the second Wild Card spot, currently held by the Rays. While it’s admittedly not a good chance, especially for the Royals, it’s a chance, nonetheless.

But the Untitledquestion is, if any of these teams can go on a run to make the post season, which team will it be?

In my mind, the Yankees are the best team of the four currently chasing down the Rays. While they don’t have that great of a pitching staff, nor a young lineup, they have a lineup of veterans — Jeter, Soriano, Rodriguez, and others — that seem to all be getting hot at just the right time.

Though they’re currently partaking in a series against the Red Sox, which are arguably must-win games, the majority of the Yankees remaining schedule isn’t all that bad. Which is why I think that even if they miss the postseason, it won’t be by as much as people originally thought it would be at the beginning of the season.

As far as the Orioles, Indians and Royals go, they all sit just behind the Yankees, and face an uphill climb for sure. Though I’d love to see the Indians or Royals finally give their fans something to be excited about, after subpar seasons over the past several years, I don’t see it happening. The Orioles, along with the Yankees, are the only teams with a viable chance, in my opinion.

No matter the outcome for the Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Royals, who are currently trying to make a final push for the post season, it will certainly be fun to watch them all in the coming weeks. They all still technically stand a shot of making the post season, and will undoubtedly be playing their hearts out for the remainder of the year.

Only time will tell if their efforts will be all for naught.

Latest MLB Leaders (March 31st-August 31st)

With the first five months of the 2013 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting, as well as disappointing — depending on how you look at it, and who you’re rooting for.

Instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that lead that particular category. (I’m planning on posting one more of these after the last day of the season.)

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but NOT AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played-Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia and Joey Votto. (136)

Most At-Bats-Manny Machado (569)

Most Hits-Miguel Cabrera (173)

Highest Average-Miguel Cabrera (.358)

Highest OBP-Miguel Cabrera (.449)

Highest SLG-Miguel Cabrera (.681)

Most Runs-Matt Carpenter (100)

Most Doubles-Manny Machado (46)

Most Triples-Starling Marte (10)

Most Home Runs-Chris Davis (47)

Most RBI’s-Miguel Cabrera (130)

Most Base On Balls-Joey Votto (107)

Most Strikeouts-Chris Carter (181)

Most Stolen Bases-Jacoby Ellsbury (50)

Most Caught Stealing-Starling Marte (13)

Most Intentional Base On Balls-David Ortiz (18)

Most Hit By Pitch-Shin-Soo Choo (23)

Most Sacrifice Flies-Zach Cozart (9)

Most Total Bases-Miguel Cabrera (329)

Most Extra Base Hits-Chris Davis (85)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Matt Holliday (28)

Most Ground Outs-Norichika Aoki (227)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced-Joey Votto (2,531)

Most Plate Appearances-Dustin Pedroia (615)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins-Max Scherzer (19)

Most Losses-Lucas Harrell (15)

Best ERA-Clayton Kershaw (1.72)

Most Games Started-R.A. Dickey (29)

Most Games Pitched-Scott Rice (71)

Most Saves-Craig Kimbrel (43)

Most Innings Pitched-Clayton Kershaw (204)

Most Hits Allowed-Joe Saunders (201)

Most Runs Allowed-C.C. Sabathia (109)

Most Earned Runs Allowed-C.C. Sabathia (100)

Most Home Runs Allowed-A.J. Griffin (32)

Most Strikeouts-Yu Darvish (236)

Most Walks-Lucas Harrell (77)

Most Complete Games-Adam Wainwright (5)

Most Shutouts-Bartolo Colon and Justin Masterson. (3)

Best Opponent Avg.-Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez. (.186)

Most Games Finished-Jim Johnson (52)

Most Double Plays Achieved-Adam Wainwright (28)

Most Wild Pitches-Trevor Cahill (16)

Most Balks-Rex Brothers, Edgmer Escalona and Wilton Lopez. (3)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed-John Lackey (34)

Most Pickoffs-Julio Teheran (8)

Most Batters Faced-R.A. Dickey (808)

Most Pitches Thrown-Justin Verlander (3,040)

Story Lines Worth Watching In the Final Month

It’s hard to believe but the 2013 MLB regular season is almost over. (Today marks exactly one month until the final games of the season, on September 29th.) Teams are making their final push for the post season, and every player is doing their best to finish out the season strong. With all of this going on, I thought I’d post an entry on the five main story lines I plan to keep an eye on throughout the final stretch.

American League Home Run Race

Davis_Cabrera_6jrfjauv_n0whcjqfIt’s a two-man race, between the Orioles’ Chris Davis and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, for who will receive the title of 2013 home run champion. But more importantly for Cabrera, he’s not just chasing down Davis for that title alone; Cabrera is trying to do what no one in the history of the game has ever been able to do: Win back-to-back Triple Crowns.

Davis currently holds a four home run lead over Cabrera (who is day-to-day, after suffering an injury in Thursday’s game) — Cabrera leads all of baseball in batting average and RBI’s — and with a mere month left of the season, it’s going to take a real display of power for Cabrera to overtake Davis. But if anyone can do it, Miguel Cabrera can.

Candidates for Rookie of the Year Award

puig_original_original_crop_exactThe Rookie of the Year award is going to be a difficult award to decide, for both the American League and National League. Both leagues have several players that have strong cases, so it’s going to be interesting to see which player will have a great final month to move themselves above the rest.

Currently, top candidates from the American League, for the R.O.Y. award, include Wil Myers, Chris Archer and David Lough, while the National League has quite a few more top candidates, in Yasiel Puig, Matt Adams, Nolan Arenado, Jedd Gyorko, Evan Gattis, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller, among others. Making this a story line well worth watching.

National League Central Division

imagesCAQNTVO6The National League Central is currently the closest of all the divisions in Major League Baseball. Less than four games separate the top three teams, being the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. (This is the first season in 21 years that the Pirates will finish with a winning record.) With the Diamondback’s slowly falling out of the race to catch up — though there’s still a slight chance they could — it would appear to be between these three teams for who will win the division.

No matter which team is able to hold on in the final month of the season, to win the division, all three are likely to make the post season, with the extra Wild Card spot, that was added last season.

Max Scherzer’s Cy Young Quest

untitledOf all of the great pitchers in the American League none have been as dominant throughout the entire season as Max Scherzer. Having gone 19-1 — only the third pitcher to ever start a season winning 19 out of their first 20 decisions — with a 2.90 ERA, Scherzer is well on his way to winning the Cy Young award, if he can keep up the great performance.

Though I think Yu Darvish will get a lot of consideration for the award — rightfully so, currently sitting at 12-5, with a 2.68 ERA, leading all of baseball in strikeouts — the award is currently Scherzer’s to lose, in the minds of many around the baseball world.

Houston Astros’ Loss Record

afbe15b4-c329-4994-8d21-cec9680d2991news_ap_org_r620x349With 30 games left to play, the Houston Astros hold a win-loss record of 44-88 — the worst record in all of baseball. They currently sit 33.5 games out of first place in their division, and look to have a losing record for the fifth straight season. Having lost 107 games in 2012, and 106 in 2011, it will be interesting to see if the Astros can finish with fewer than 100 losses this season.

They’ll have to go 19-11, in their final 30 games, which isn’t impossible, but with it being the Astros, it’s not all that likely. It should be interesting to see if the Astros can at least finish out the year on a high note, after yet another disappointing season.

What’re you looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

Miguel Cabrera Heating Up; Matt Harvey Shut Down

Miguel Cabrera has been on fire all season long, but lately he’s been producing at an absurd rate. In his last 10 games, Cabrera has gone 15-41 (.366 average), with three home runs and thirteen RBI’s. An incredible performance, without question, but even with all of 628x471this recent success, in his chase for a second straight Triple Crown Cabrera is still short in one major category: Home Runs.

The one person standing in Cabrera’s way of doing something that has never been done in MLB history — winning back-to-back Triple Crowns — is the Orioles’ Chris Davis, who currently holds a four homer lead over Cabrera.

But there’s still a month of baseball left to be played, in which Cabrera could easily catch up.

Leading all of baseball in RBI’s, with 128, and batting average, at .360, Cabrera is well on his way to winning yet another Triple Crown award, if he can harness his power in the coming weeks.

Regardless of whether or not the hot-hitting Cabrera can win back-to-back Triple Crowns, it’s still very likely that he’ll do something nearly as impressive: Win back-to-back MVP awards.

But just as one of baseball’s biggest stars is heating up, another has had his season stopped in its tracks.

Mets Ace, Matt Harvey, received the unfortunate news on Monday afternoon that he has a partially torn UCL in his right elbow, after undergoing an MRI. While there’s still the chance that Harvey won’t need surgery, the Mets are taking a great deal of caution by shutting down Harvey for the remainder of the season.

“There is some swelling in the forearm; may be some in the elbow”, said Mets’ general manager, Sandy Alderson, in a news conference. Matt Harvey“He’s had forearm issues for some time that have been treated….[Harvey's been] getting preventive elbow treatment since Spring Training.”

“[We're] not going to do anything to jeopardize Matt’s future with the Mets. [We] wouldn’t expect him to pitch the rest of the season….By no means is this a career ending injury.”

According to Matt Harvey, who has gone 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA this season, the arm soreness has been going on for some time, however, it was at its worst after his most recent start on Saturday, when he gave up a career high thirteen hits–prompting Harvey to get an MRI.

“It was something I felt like I could pitch through and schedule treatment on”, said Harvey. “When I heard the news, I was pretty shocked….I’m still very optimistic. I’m going to do everything I can so I don’t have to get surgery….I’m going to do whatever I can to prepare for next year.”

While Harvey was scheduled to be shut down later this season anyway, once he hit his innings limit, this is still a major disappointment for both Harvey and the Mets. Though they were out of things, playoff wise, Harvey is the type of guy fans love to come out to watch pitch.

But more importantly, this injury doesn’t just end Harvey’s season, it also ends his case for 2013 National League Cy Young. A true shame after the great season Harvey has been able to put together.

Ichiro Suzuki Records His 4,000th Hit

After 22 seasons as a professional baseball player, Ichiro Suzuki accomplished a feat on Wednesday night that only two other players in the history of the game have been able to do: record 4,000 career hits — Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,191) being the other two. imageGiven, 1,278 of these hits came while playing in Japan, it’s still an amazing accomplishment.

“It’s a testament to how hard he’s worked, how long he’s been in the game, how he stays healthy, the way he goes about his business”, said Yankees manager, Joe Girardi. “He’s a great player, and he’s been a great player for a long time.”

Coming on a sharply hit ground ball to left field, Ichiro’s milestone hit put him past Hall of Famer, Lou Gehrig, on the all-time hit list, with 2,722 hits in the Major Leagues. Suzuki also holds the record for most career hits between the ages of 30 and 39, with 2,060; topping Pete Rose, who posted 2,025, and Sam Rice, who notched 2,008, both over the same length of time.

But it’s not just the number of hits — ten straight seasons with 200+ hits — that makes Ichiro such a remarkable player. A 10-time All-Star, Ichiro has also collected ten gold glove awards, three silver sluggers, and the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in his very first season in the Major Leagues. Not many players can come close to a résumé like that.

Upon recording his 4,000th hit, in his first at-bat of the game, Ichiro received a standing ovation from the crowd, along with a congratulations from each player on the Yankees. Later saying, “When my teammates came out to first base, that was very special. The fans, I wasn’t expecting so much joy and happiness from them. That’s what made it very special tonight; not just the number, but all the things that came with it were very special.”

“Obviously having the 4,000th hit was important, but what is going to make it a more special moment was the fact that my teammates came out. When I look back on this, that’s what is going to make this very special.”

A very special night indeed, for Ichiro, as well as every fan around the baseball world. It’s not too often that a player does something so noteworthy as reaching the 4,000 hit club.

Now that Ichiro has reached the 4,000 hit mark, there’s only one question remaining: Can Ichiro, who is currently 278 hits shy, reach 3,000 hits for his Major League career? Only time will tell, but it will certainly be fun to watch.

MLB Instant Replay to Expand In 2014

Major League Baseball announced its plan to expand instant replay, beginning next season, on Thursday afternoon, leaving baseball fans around the country with a mix of emotions. Some like the idea of further replay, while others prefer the way the game has always been, with the human element. (As I’ve stated in the past, I’m somewhere in between.) But no matter which side you fall on, you have to take the time to appreciate the fact that Thursday will forever go down as a historic day in baseball history.

But the news of further replay in 2014 shouldn’t come as a major surprise, as there has been a vast amount of debate recently, regarding a replay system for Major League Baseball that would enable the right calls to be made the majority of the time, without increasing the length of games–game time being the major concern among fans.

However, according to Braves’ President, John Schuerholz, the change in replay policy would decrease replay time, from a current 520d34702020e_preview-300average of three minutes and four seconds all the way down to one minute and fifteen seconds. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you combine multiple replays per game with the time saved by managers not arguing with the umpires over close calls–perhaps reducing the number of manager ejections, in the long run–it really does add up.

With advancing technology, many question why something hasn’t been done sooner–the NBA, NHL and NFL all have replay systems in place–however, it’s taken awhile, and a lot of convincing, for many people to get onboard with the idea; and of course, an agreeable plan had to be formed, over which plays will be reviewable and which won’t.

“Reviewable plays will cover 89 percent of those incorrect calls that were made in the past”, Schuerholz said on Thursday. “The 11 percent remaining are in the non-reviewable [category], which can still be argued by the manager. And the manager can still request that the umpires get together and discuss it to see if anybody else on the crew saw it differently. But it’s not reviewable.”

Here’s how the expanded replay is set to work:

Every game, each manager will get three challenges–one challenge from the start of game time through the sixth inning, with the other two challenges being available from the seventh inning on. If a manager elects to challenge a play, and the replay results in an overturned call, the manager receives his challenge back, which he can issue again, however, if the call stands, the manager loses his challenge, up until the seventh inning, when he will get another two to use, if needed. (If a manger doesn’t use, or lose, his one challenge in the first six innings, it doesn’t carry over.)

While this might seem a bit complicated, I actually find it rather appealing. It’ll keep managers from challenging a play unless they’re absolutely sure–in their mind, at least–that a call was blown. People seem to be complaining that managers will be challenging close plays right and left, but I disagree. I feel the managers will be less likely to attempt to challenge a non-crucial play. But only time will tell for sure.

how-adding-15-more-umpires-would-solve-baseballs-replay-crisis“You should know that the umpires are very, very receptive to this”, said Schuerholz Thursday. “They have spent enough time being abused or being the butt of bad comments about what’s happened or what’s been viewed on replays. And with the advanced technology that we have on replays, they understand that it can be a valuable tool for them. And we intend to use it as that.”

The only flaw in the replay plan that I could see taking place is the fact that there’s still the chance of human error by the official play reviewer, at MLB.com headquarters, up in New York, that ultimately decides whether or not a call should stand.

Every once and awhile, even with replay, it can be difficult to determine for sure what the correct call should be. If the official gets the call wrong, one way or another, it could cost the manager his one challenge in the first part of the game, that he otherwise would’ve been able to use again, had the correct call had been made. And ultimately, it could cost the team the game.

Therefore, as with anything, it’s not completely perfect.

“It is a phasing plan”, as Schuerholz put it. “At the end of ’14, we’ll go back and look at what we’ve done well–what’s worked, what hasn’t worked–and make adjustments….It’s going to take some time.”

While it will indeed take some time, one thing is for sure: The game of baseball will never be the same, ever again. While some despise that, with the available technology, if you can work out a way to get the calls right the majority of the time, is a permanent change to the game really such a bad thing?

July 26th Mariners Vs. Twins Game

After not blogging for nearly a month, I needed a way to jump back into things, and I figured this was the best way to do so. I went back and forth on whether or not to do a recap of this game–after all, it was over two weeks ago–but I decided to, nonetheless.

If you remember back to my last blog post, I discussed the 24 day road trip I was going on around the country, and stated that I wouldn’t be blogging for awhile. It certainly has been awhile, but I’m finally back. I’ll resume blogging about the latest baseball news and such sometime in the next few days, but for now, here’s a recap of the Mariners game I attended during my recent trip:

My grandpa accompanied me to this game, and as has a tendency to happen before I visit a ballpark for the first time, we got all turned around, and ended up going by the ballpark, on the interstate, several times, before finally making it down onto the correct street. It took nearly an hour to go from our hotel, a mere 8 miles away, to Safeco Field–part of that was due to horrible traffic–so when we finally arrived, I made my way as fast as I could to the closest gate, and into the ballpark:

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Our tickets for this game were on the first base side, but I didn’t head immediately to my seat. Instead, I darted for the front row just beyond the Twins’ dugout. Unlike the last MLB game I attended up in Baltimore, in June, I wasn’t as focused on getting autographs as I was on meeting up with Kyle Gibson, who I’ve gotten to know through fairly regular twitter conversations and emails, over the past couple of years.

While I was looking forward to meeting Gibson at the game, for the first time, it didn’t happen. The delay to the ballpark caused me to miss Gibson, and he didn’t return back out of the clubhouse until too late. (Maybe next time.)

But my temporary front row seat wasn’t all bad. I had a great view of the long haul bombers; a group of guys who tour around to different ballparks during the season, putting on spectacular softball home run derby-style shows for the fans:

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They certainly didn’t disappoint, as two of their swings sent the ball sailing out of the entire ballpark. Truly an incredible thing to witness.

Shortly after they finished showing off for those in attendance, the Mariners’ starting pitcher for the game, Felix Hernandez, emerged from the dugout, and headed out towards the bullpen. I hadn’t known he was going to be pitching until a few days before, and I was thrilled to get to see a former Cy Young and perfect game pitcher in action.

I stuck around in the same spot until after the National Anthem, when I headed to my ticketed seat. But I didn’t stay there long. I had been wanting to take a self guided tour, of sorts, around the ballpark, so, after watching NBA Hall of Famer, Gary Payton, throw out the first pitch….:

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….that’s exactly what I did. I began by heading all the way up to the last row in the upper level, behind the Mariners’ dugout:

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It sure was a long way up there, but it was worth it.

I spent a bit of time there, admiring the view, before heading down to the next level and making my way over to left field. But I quickly found myself in some kind of club section, so I had to go all the way down to the lower level. I ended up, somehow, behind the King’s Court (a special cheering section for Felix Hernandez):

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But that was okay. I wanted to get there eventually, anyway.

The atmosphere was incredible on this particular night, with Hernandez pitching. And being in the vicinity of the King’s Court–a section of fans that show up every time Hernandez is pitching, decked out in yellow shirts, carrying yellow ‘K’ signs–for an inning made it even better.

But even with the amazing buzz in the air, I got bored standing there (I get bored easily) and ended up moving to nearly straight away center for a few at-bats:

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However, while there, I recalled one of my main goals of the night: to get some garlic fries. (I had heard they were fantastic, and I was looking forward to trying some.) So, after searching for a bit, I got a basket and headed back to my seat:

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I can honestly say the fries were good, but not great; especially not six-dollar-great. But I got my money’s worth, at least. Can’t say that too often.

The view, from my seat, remained the same up until the ninth inning, when I moved to the third base side:

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I expected the Mariners to hold their one run lead, with Hernandez still on the mound (he had eleven strikeouts on the night), but as my luck would have it, he gave up a run to the Twins to tie things up.

The Mariners proceeded to not do much of anything in the bottom half of the inning, so for the first time in my life I was able to witness an extra inning game. (Kind of surprising with all of the games I’ve gone to lately, I think.)

My grandpa and I stuck around for the tenth and eleventh innings, but left as the twelfth was starting. Who knew how long the game would go, and the next day was going to be a busy one, that started early, so it wasn’t practical to stick around.

The Twins ended up winning the game, 3-2, in thirteen innings. So Hernandez received a no decision, despite the gem of a game. But you know, that happens sometimes.

I had a great time at the ballgame, and an overall great time on the entire 24 day trip. I saw some amazing things, but it’s good to be back home where I can easily keep up with what’s going on around the baseball world, once again. Being away for so long truly makes you appreciate how great of a sport baseball is.

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