Twenty-two pitches. That’s how many Brandon Morrow and Miguel Batista threw last night that could have resulted in a successful outcome that won the game for the Mariners.
Here”s CBS Sportline’s play-by-play account of each batter after Morrow retired Joe Crede and Delmon Young for the first two outs of the ninth, with the Mariners holding a 5-3 lead. Each pitch from that point on could have ended the game:
Carlos Gomez: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Gomez walked
Jason Kubel hit for Jose Morales.
Jason Kubel: Ball, Ball, Ball, Kubel walked, Gomez to second.
Nick Punto: Ball, Brian Buscher hit for Nick Punto, Brendan Harris ran for Jason Kubel.
Brian Buscher: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Buscher walked, Gomez to third, Harris to second.
Miguel Batista relieved Brandon Morrow.
Denard Span: Strike looking, Span reached on an infield single, Gomez scored, Harris to third, Buscher to second.
Alexi Casilla: Casilla singled to center, Harris and Buscher scored, Span to second
There’s no great point to this, except to highlight what an extended nightmare it was, and how many opportunties they had for a happy ending.
A. Bartlett Giamatti — the former commissioner of baseball, president of Yale, professor of comparative literature, and father of a truly great actor, Paul Giamatti, — had it exactly right when he said that baseball is a game designed to break your heart.
Giamatti’s actual quote had grander and more profound implications: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
But I’d say it applies perfectly to the ninth inning of last night’s game — If you’re a Mariners’ fan, that is.