10/15/22 – ALDS Game 3- Astros at Mariners

SGA – M’s Rally Towel
Autos – Luis Garcia and Dusty Baker
Final Score – Astros 1, M’s 0
Astros win ALDS 3-0 and proceed to ALCS
End of the Mariners postseason.

The M’s 2022 Playoff Run So Far!

AL Wildcard Series

AL Division Series


Pre-Pregame

Having never been to a MLB playoff game, I had a lot of angst about what to bring. Do I bring graphing stuff? Would there be any graphing? Do I even bring a backpack, or would it be too cumbersome in a big crowd, especially if I had to like get up for a snack or the bathroom?

After much hemming and hawing, I decided to bring the usual stuff — blue ballpoint pen, blue sharpie, black sharpie, silver paint pen, backup pens and markers, OMLB, M’s team ball, a random MLBers ball, visitor cards, current and former Mariner cards, card storage supplies, etc. I did leave some stuff at home — visitor clothes, mini clipboard, All Star Game ball, jumbo cards, backups for backup pens and markers, etc. Wore my Mariners gear, left my Astros stuff at home. They’re my second favorite AL team, but this was the playoffs. I did bring a windbreaker to cover my Mariners stuff while on the Houston side. 🙂

There was plenty of parking at the light rail station and people were heading over early. I felt a lot of tense and quiet anxious energy mixed with “not confident” hope — or maybe that was just me ha ha. The gate lines were pretty long but some of my buddies had a good spot and included yours truly. Getting in was smooth and I received an awesome Rally Towel for use during the game. 🙂


Pregame

I’m glad I came prepared! The Mariners were already inside when the gates opened 2.5 hrs prior to first pitch. The Astros were doing the full complement of batting, pitching, and throwing practices. Lots of players were around and they looked relaxed. I did not see a lot of them signing. However, I did see a couple of pitchers near the left field railing and headed over. Luis Garcia patiently signed a card for me through the netting. It looked like he was going to “miss” at first but he carefully adjusted. The blue sharpie is a little gappy on the glossy surface but he signed it nicely. I may send it to the restoration department to ink it in a little, or just leave it alone it’s also fine as it is. Thank you Luis! That was the good news.

The bad news was that Framber Valdez was also there but skipped me and my card. I followed him to two other spots towards the dugout and he skipped me two more times. I don’t know if it was cause I left my Astros gear at home or cause I was too manly lol but that’s what happened, even after the Astros Sign Lady and another Houston superfan tried to help me. Thanks ladies. 🙂

However, there was more good news! Dusty Baker was signing at the home plate corner of the dugout. I was down the line past the camera well but decided to quickly head over and give it a shot. He signed my baseball, on the sweet spot no less! When I tossed it to him, I thought it dropped into the dugout. I don’t even know if he signed the ball I gave him or another one. Anyway, after signing it nicely he rolled it back to me on the top out of the dugout. I tried not to smear it as I took a photo and stored it in my backpack but i think somewhere along the line it smeared a little. Could have just been the pen. Regardless of the cause, the restoration department (at my house) used a white eraser to reduce the biggest smudges without like going inside the letters or anything. So the ball is a little dinged up and the auto is very slightly smeared but it’s still awesome and now stored safely. Thank you Dusty!

I considered going over to the Mariners side for the anthem/pregame stretches/etc. but thought I wouldn’t be able to hang out in an aisle, didn’t want to stand in front of the purchaser of a front row seat before our first home playoff game in 21 years, thought the players wouldn’t sign before this special game, wanted to be in my seat and see the first pitch, etc. I was in a concessions line for part of the formal introductions, hearing loud boos for the Astros and loud cheers for the M’s. I was at my seat for the anthem and stretches and didn’t see any of the good guys signing, but there were lots of fireworks, a flyover from a couple of naval fighter planes, and a first pitch from Felix Hernandez to Franklin Gutierrez. 🙂


The Game

Despite the smoke from wildfires in our region, it was a beautiful afternoon, evening, and night for baseball. It was a full house of 47,960 with over 95% M’s fans waving our new towels and watching our first home playoff game in 21 years. …… Let’s Go Mariners! …… Let’s Go Mariners! The crowd was loudly anti-Astros and pro-Mariners. The M’s needed to win this game to keep their season alive.

There was a lot of great pitching and defense. A lot. It was an 18 inning game, taking 6 hours and 22 minutes. Both teams threatened at various points but couldn’t cash in. There was a bizarre strike zone and lots of strikeouts, plus some defensive gems by Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, Ty France, and others. It was downright scary every time Jordan Álvarez came up (and he did not homer today/tonight!) and exciting every time JRod came up (he didn’t homer either). Meanwhile, the normally reliable Jose Altuve and Mitch Haniger both struggled.

Kudos to the pitchers from both teams! Starters George Kirby (7 shutout innings, 6 hits, and 5 strikeouts) and Lance McCullers Jr. (6 shutout innings, 2 hits, and 7 strikeouts) were both excellent. The parade of relievers for each team was very effective. For the M’s, it was particularly nice to see Andres Munoz and Paul Sewald succeed after taking some lumps earlier in the series.

To be honest, I was ready for it to be over by about the 12th inning, preferably with an M’s win. I also had a newfound appreciation for the runner on 2nd thing in extra innings during the regular season. I used to think it was corny but now I think it should also be part of the postseason. Then again, it was kind of cool to get a whole second game in lol. 🙂

I’d have to say Houston had three heroes. The first hero was Luis Garcia. (Recall that Garcia signed during BP.). With his unusual rocking the baby or swinging an air bat or whatever he was doing before actually throwing the ball, plus around a 20 mile difference between his fastball and curveball, he was absolutely fantastic. He allowed only two hits and struck out six over the last five innings.

The second hero was Dusty Baker for calling on Garcia in the bottom of the 14th. (Recall that Dusty also signed during BP.) Garcia has both started and relieved effectively in his career so he seemed like a sensible choice. (I thought the M’s should have brought in Logan Gilbert around the 13th inning or so. I mean the season was on the line here! But it didn’t happen.)

The third hero was Jeremy Peña. (I did not see him sign during BP.) He had already been clutch in the first two games. Tonight, he hit the game winning home run off Penn Murfee in the top of the 18th. It felt like an excruciatingly slow line drive to centerfield but was actually pretty fast at 105.3 mph with a 24 degree launch angle. JRod could only turn and watch as it quietly traveled 415 feet and landed in The Pen. It felt like our playoff balloon had been pierced and was quietly leaking until it was suddenly just plain deflated. It was the only freaking run in the game. As Peña rounded the bases, half the Houston team ran out of the dugout because it was obviously such a huge dagger. Jose Altuve was riding around on someone’s back and everything. Mariner fans everywhere were stunned.

The ‘Stros would storm out again after Garcia finished off the bottom of the 18th. Victory for the Houston Astros and heartbreak for the Seattle Mariners. We were tied or leading for 30 of the 36 innings in the series but got swept. I was crying on the inside and still am a day later, but eventually I’ll be thinking about it all and smiling cause this was such a cool team. It was a brutal end to a wonderful season.

Final Score – Astros 1, M’s 0; Astros win ALDS 3-0 and proceed to ALCS; End of the Mariners postseason.

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