Seattle Mariners: Best Moments from the First Half

Troy Martin@@TroyMartinObvContributor IIIJuly 17, 2011

Seattle Mariners: Best Moments from the First Half

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    As we move toward the business end of the season, the Mariners are now out of the running. So there's no better time to reflect on the highs and lows of our favourite team in the first half.

    Some memorable moments, and some we'd rather forget..

    Today, we'll start with the highlights. Lord knows we need some at the moment..

    And just when your spirits are lifted again, the worst list will be on it's way soon.

    As always, feel free to comment or put forward your own ideas.

Best Moment #7: Jack Wilson's Double Play

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    April 5: Jack Wilson has not had the chance to contribute much this year, but contribute he did with this stunning double play. Apologies for the poor quality video, but a play this good doesn't need to be in HD for you to see how awesome it is.

    When healthy, Wilson is still one of the best in the business.

Best Moment #6: Smoak's Emotional Return

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    April 26: I remember the moment clearly, glued to the screen when Justin Smoak stepped to the plate in his first game back since the passing of his father after a battle with lung cancer.

    I didn't care if we won the game, I just wanted Smoak to do well.

    It didn't take long. Smoak deposited a Phil Coke fastball into the seats for a two-run home run and rounded the bases before being met at home plate by Miguel Olivo, who said to him "Hey, that was for Papa."

    A moment that he, and many of us, will remember for a long time.

Best Moment #5: Ackley Wins a Wild One

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    June 27: While standing on third base, Dustin Ackley noticed that the pitches being thrown by Florida reliever Steve Cishek were travelling a little wider than you would expect for an intentional walk.

    In the top of the 10th, with Seattle and Florida locked at 1-1, Ackley doubled and then progressed to third after a Miguel Olivo fly ball. This brought Carlos Perguero to the plate.

    Florida manager Jack McKeon gave the signal for the intentional walk to catcher John Buck.

    That's when it got crazy.

    Cishek, a right-hander who throws from a low arm angle, made Buck work just to catch his first two offerings, then threw the third pitch straight past him. Ackley without hesitation sprinted home to put Seattle ahead 2-1.

    Cishek must have felt especially lousy, as replays showed that Buck's throw back to the plate had Ackley out at home, but Cishek couldn't hold on to the ball.

    League held on for the save, and Ackley had another highlight in his brief major league career.

Best Moment #4: Mariners Draft Surprise

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    June 6: This year's draft was loaded with talent, and there was much speculation about who would go where. As the big day got closer the Pirates were expected to take Gerrit Cole with the first pick. They did.

    This left the Mariners to choose Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon.

    They did not.

    Instead, Seattle caused the first shock of the draft by taking Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen.

    The three pitchers making the most noise prior to the draft were Cole, his teammate Trevor Bauer, and High School fireballer Dylan Bundy.

    After the shock subsided and people started to look closer at Hultzen, it appears the Mariners' scouts knew exactly what they were doing.

    He finished the season with a 10-3 record, and a 1.59 ERA in 96 innings. Most consider him to be closest to major league ready because of his outstanding command.

    He has a live fastball which sits in the 90s, and can touch 96, and throws a hard sinking change with an identical delivery to his fastball.

    With Hultzen due to join the big club sooner rather than later, the Mariners' pitching future looks bright indeed.

Best Moment #3: Hunter's Day in the Sun

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    May 19: It was just our day.

    Doug Fister & Dan Haren had battled to a 1-1 stalemate, David Pauley worked a scoreless ninth. It was left to the Mariners to face Angels reliever Scott Downs, who had not given up a run in his past 11 appearances.

    It started with Jack Cust's accidental swinging bunt single down the third base line with the switch on.

    Then after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Carlos Peguero hit a routine fly ball to center that the Angels' $90 million outfielder, Torii Hunter, lost in the sun.

    It was only 18 days earlier that the Mariners suffered the exact same fate at the hands of the Red Sox when Ichiro lost a Jed Lowrie fly ball in the sun.

    This one went part of the way to restoring our faith in Karma.

Best Moment #2: "The Franchise" Announces His Arrival

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    June 18: Mariners fans had waited for what seemed like an eternity for Dustin Ackley to make his debut. He recorded a base hit in his first major league at bat, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. But that was nothing compared to the following night, when he went deep off the Phillies' Vance Worley.

    The crowd stood as one, and refused to sit until Ackley's new teammates virtually shoved him out of the dugout for a curtain call.

    It was big moment, and figures to be just one of many that Ackley brings Mariners fans throughout his career.

Best Moment #1: My Oh My!

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    April 11: Dave Neihaus would have loved this one..

    It's the seventh inning, and the Blue Jays hold a 7-0 lead after roughing up Felix Hernandez. No real surprise here; the Mariners were stuck in a seven-game losing streak. A stretch during which they went 9-52 with runners in scoring position.

    Many in the record-low crowd of 13,056 had already started to depart Safeco Field, hoping to beat the traffic. Little did they know what was about to transpire.

    A solo home run in the seventh from Milton Bradley made it 7-1, but hardly brought a reaction from the crowd,

    But then the Mariners scored five more runs to make it a one-run game. Three consecutive bases loaded walks followed by a two run double from Justin Smoak, and suddenly things were getting interesting.

    A dramatic finish was set up in the ninth when the struggling Michael Saunders led off with a double and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Ryan. Adam Kennedy grounded out, and then Ichiro walked and stole second in a huge play that had those remaining in the crowd yelling and stomping with everything they had.

    Utility man Luis Rodriguez, who had come into the game as in injury replacement for Chone Figgins, put together a 10-pitch at-bat before launching a long fly ball off Toronto's Shawn Camp into right field that scored Ichiro and Saunders and set off a celebration reminiscent of a World Series win.

    It wasn't the World Series, it was just one game.

    But boy, did we need it.