Walk(off) this way: MARINERS WIN! (8/14/2012)

After a tough Mariners loss in our first game of the season at Safeco Field, we were back for more the next day on August 14, 2012.  Counting this game, we had two more Mariners games on our schedule for the season.  The Mariners had a 2-2 record in our previous four 2012 Mariners games.  A Mariners win at this game would ensure that we would not suffer a losing *in-person* Mariners season in 2012.

We wanted the win bad.  So we brought out our secret weapon:

This would be Colleen’s first Mariners game (or any baseball game for that matter) of the season.  The M’s would certainty want to win the game for this special occasion, right?

Well, let’s see.

We parked in the old Kingdome lot again.  This time, Kellan and I sped ahead as the rest of our crew walked lazily toward the “The Pen” entrance at Safeco Field.

Kellan and I hurried and grabbed a spot at the SRO counter behind the Mariners bullpen:

I had to stuff my giveaway Mariners shirt into my backpack so I set Kellan down on the counter.  As I was tussling with the backpack, Mariners supervisor-type-gal walked by and told me Kellan couldn’t sit on the counter.  I’m pretty sure she told me that last season too.  Oh, well, she gave Tim a baseball last season, too, so she’s okay in my book.

We’ve had amazing luck collecting a few baseballs at games this season.  It’s been a blast.  And entering this game we were sitting on a milestone.  Our next baseball would be our 100th of the season.  As a kid trying non-stop to catch a baseball at BP at the Kingdome with very, very, veeeerrry little luck, it is utterly amazing to me that we were about to hit 100 baseballs for the second season in a row.

But you know what?  It is a different time these days, and it is lots of fun.

Anyway, while at the SRO counter (in the spot pictured above), I noticed there were 3-4 Mariners in LF in front of the visitors’ bullpen.  It was hard to see them because they were behind the bullpen bench and its little canopy.

Kellan and I headed over there and stood in the little nook below the stairs up to the field level concourse.  It looked like this:

Shortly after we arrived, someone hit a ball right down the LF line.  Shawn Kelley ran over to field it and throw it back to the bucket.  But he walked back to his group of teammates before throwing it.  And, in doing so, he walked through that little break between the bullpen canopy and hand-operated scoreboard on the LF wall.  I called out his name and he promptly tossed us the baseball.

Big thanks, Shawn!

Soon, the rest of the stadium opened up.  Kellan and I headed out to the seats in RF.  I was thinking it would be cool if Kellan and I could catch a HR on the fly like we did last season.  No dice.

But right as Colleen and Tim showed up, Tom Wilhelmsen tossed us this baseball:

Thanks, Bartender!

It was way too sunny and warm out in RF.  Aye, aye, aye…it is so massively hot in Pennsylvania during the summer.  We’re a cold weather family and the last thing we want when we go to Seattle is hot weather.  But we just happened to visit during the hottest week of the summer.  It was in the 90s several days.  Anyway, we had to head for the shady seats in foul territory down the 3B line.

But, first, Tim had to stop by and get his picture with a bunch of military troops who were assembling in section 106:

As we relocated, the Mariners cleared the field.  When we reached foul territory, Kellan spent some quiet time watching the Rays pitchers playing catch:

Tim and I joined in the action with Kellan:

See that guy in the grass right in front of Kellan?  That is Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi.  Twenty-four hours earlier, Cursi had walked up to Kellan out of the blue and handed him a baseball.

Well, after finishing playing catch at this game, Cursi walked over to us and handed baseballs to both Tim and Kellan:

There really wasn’t anyone else over there but us.  He came over specifically to hand baseballs to both of the boys.  It was pretty awesome.

He engaged in a little baby’ish small talk with Kellan (FYI, Kellan is a big kid now!  He’s no baby!).

Then Cursi said to me in a questioning tone, “You were here yesterday?”  How weird is that?  He recognized us from the day before and he still walked over and gave both boys baseballs?  That is pretty darn cool.

Big huge thanks, Scott Cursi!

But he wasn’t done yet.  He then went on to warn us to be very careful over there in foul territory so we don’t get hit by any baseballs.  Tim responded by telling Cursi how one of the A’s hit him with a baseball last season.  Cursi reiterated that we had to be very careful!

I thanked him a bunch.

And then he posed for a picture with Tim:

That’s pretty sweet.

Thanks, again, Scott!

Tim developed a new obsession during this series that I am going to do my best to confine to just this series:  asking ushers for baseball cards.

Since Tim has been going to MLB games, ushers from time-to-time have given him baseball cards.  He likes them a lot and has a nice little collection, nothing fancy, but it’s fun for him.  Well, at this series, Tim realized he could be proactive and simply ask ushers for a card when he sees an usher.

So, after our interaction with Cursi, Tim decided he wanted to go over to the dugout and ask the usher over there for some baseball cards.  So we went marching off in that direction:

Behind the dugout, I noticed something funny:

That is Evan Longoria raking the dirt around 3B.  I think he started out trying to fix something he didn’t like with the dirt, but then he switched over and tried to get in his teammate’s way with the rake (as he is doing in that last picture).

The ushers at the dugout gave both boys several baseball cards.  And in the process, my mom showed up.  Then we headed back toward the LF foul corner, and we had someone take our picture along the way:

My mom and Tim then headed off to the kids’ play area, Colleen headed to the Mariners team store, and I hung out with my dad and Kellan down the foul line:

We were sitting back hoping someone would hit a foul ball to my dad…

…, but the Rays were not cooperating.

Eventually, Colleen returned and we all headed up the stairs…

…and over to the playarea:

A couple things to note that group of pictures.  Kellan climbed up to the top of the play set and then got scared and wouldn’t move.  I had to climb up to the top and coax him out of there.  While up there, I took the top two pictures above from inside the play set.

In that bottom left picture above, the arrow is pointing to my buddy from high school, Mark, who was attending that game with my best buddy, Paul.  I hadn’t seen Mark in a couple years so it was good to briefly catch up with him.

Our seats for all three games this week were in RF, right behind Ichi…oh..wait.  No.  There, sadly, was no Ichiro.  We were stationed behind Eric Thames instead.  Here was our view as Kevin Millwood delivered the first pitch of the game:

I should mention that, instead of joining us at our seats, Colleen headed back to the Mariners team store at the beginning of the game.  She was in search of some good deals.

Now, unfortunately, things didn’t start too well for Millwood and the Mariners.  Desmond Jennings led off with a single to LF.  BJ Upton followed with a triple, scoring Jennings.  And two batters later, Evan Longoria hit a sac fly to score Upton and make it 2-0 Rays.

So, things didn’t start too great.  And it didn’t looked too good because Matt Moore was on the hill for the Rays.

In the bottom of the first inning, I went to get some pizza and nachos:

Nothing was doing for the Mariners in the bottom of the first.  Luckily, Millwood locked things down after the first inning.

And then the Mariners got one run back in the bottom of the second inning on a back-to-back doubles by Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo.

After polishing off our own food, Kellan moved on to my mom’s food.  He *crushed* him some sweet potato fries:

Eventually, I realized that Colleen was still shopping!  I couldn’t believe it.  I “discussed” the situation with the Mariners over Twitter:

She finally arrived at our seats in the fourth inning!  That’s a lot of shopping.

In the fourth, Millwood was looking strong:

And I started taking some pictures, like this one:

And this one:

My dad and I noticed that B.J. Upton has some huge feet, or he wears clown shoes:

Here’s another set of cute shots of Colleen and Kellan:

Mid-game, Tim and my mom decided to go on an adventure.  They started out with Tim taking an artistic picture of the RF foul pole…

…and then an usher took a picture of my mom and Tim while she was telling them that section 110 (RF foul pole section) was closed for the game.

Then it was off to the Mariners pig…

…and a big pepsi sign by the play area.

Tim posed on the pick-off wall in the M’s Hall of Fame area:

And then they ran into the Mariners Moose:

They also collected a boat-load of baseball cards from the field level ushers.  As I mentioned, Tim was hooked on baseball card collecting.

When Tim and my mom returned from their adventure, I grabbed some ice cream helmets for the boys and Kellan and I took his ice cream to the bullpen for a change of scenery:

It was still 2-1 Rays.

Millwood was still pitching, but Lucas Luetge was warming in the pen:

Oh, yeah, and when Kellan was sitting on the SRO counter eating ice cream, that same supervisor lady from the beginning of BP came over and leaned in and said, “I know you know, so I’m not even going to say it.”

Oops!

So, we decided to head back our seats.

On our way back to the seats, we stopped and got this panorama of Safeco Field from the Dave Niehaus statue:

Colleen had bought some sweet potato fries on her town, and Kellan really enjoyed sharing them with her:

We had a pitchers’ duel on our hands.  Not much offensive activity to report.  Hey, Trayvon Robinson hit a foul ball:

And we started our own exclusive Cook family wave:

Millwood gave way to Lucas Luetge to start the top of the 8th inning.  Luetge retired the first batter on a fly ball and then turned the ball over to Stephen Pryor:

Pryor retired the next two batters and sent the game into the bottom of the 8th with the score still 2-1 in favor of the Rays.

Colleen, the boys and I take a ton of pictures as a family, but we tend not to get many pictures of all of us as a family.  Over the last several years, some of our best (and most of our) family photos have been taken at Safeco Field.  Late in the game, we added to our catalog of Safeco Field family photos.

Here’s one:

And another:

And as we moved to the bottom of the ninth inning and the white shirts started waving (these shirts were a giveaway at this game)…

…to spur on a Mariners rally, we took a few more family pictures like this one:

Now, it was getting down to game time.  Bottom of the 9th, the M’s were still down by 1.  I felt good.  Even though the Rays had Fernando Rodney and his sub-1.0 ERA and only 1 blown save on the mound, I was confident the M’s could walk off with the win.

You see, this was the fourth time we had seen the Rays this season, and 2 of those 3 games has resulted in walk-off loses for the Rays, including Rodney’s one and only blown save and loss of the season up to this date.

Kyle Seager led off the inning with a single to RF.  We were in business!

Chone Figgins followed with a sacrifice bunt gone awry for the Rays.  First baseman Carlos Pena fielded the ball and threw it past the bag and down the RF line.  Seager advanced to 3B and Figgins to 2B on the error.  We were really in business now!!

Justin Smoak followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Seager to tie up the game and sent Figgins to 3B, ninty feet from the win.  Yes!

The Rays got desperate and creative.  When Miguel Olivo came to the plate with one down, the Rays brought right fielder Ben Zobrist in to play behind 2B as a fifth infielder:

It was a cool strategic move to see from Joe Maddon.  I was hoping we could *beat* the move with a soft liner down the RF or LF line for the win.  But it didn’t happen.  Actually, Miguel Olivo rendered the move moot by striking out.

So we turned to new-Mariner Eric Thames.  And guess what?  Thames hit a soft liner just over the glove of second baseman Sean Rodriguez.

MARINERS WIN!!!

Thames got a big ol’ shaving cream pie to the face:

In fact, he ended up spitting out a bunch of shaving cream.

Great Mariners win!

It was only Kellan’s second Mariners home win, and we were psyched about it:

And the win ensured us that we would not have a *losing* in-person Mariners season.  Hooray!

Now, we were one Mariners win (on Thursday) from hopefully securing a *WINNING*in-person Mariners season.  Double-hooray!!!

We celebrated a bit more with a grandparents-included Cook family photo:

And then we headed to the door with smiles on our faces.  On the way out, I snapped a parting-shot panorama from the concourse behind section 106:

And we watched the seagulls swoop in for some post-game feeding in the stands:

The good times continued on our way down the street toward my folks’ car.  Tim got a Safeco Field fire hydrant photo…

…a silly cop pose (that he did completely on his own) in front of a Seattle Police car, and finally a picture with a big picture of a hawk on the outside of Century Link Field (the *Clink*).

MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!  MARINERS WIN!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

19/17 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
29 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 3, Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
103 Baseballs – Mariners 18, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

 BONUS PICTURE:  Here is a look at 99 of the baseball cards that Tim and Kellan (mostly Tim) collected at our three games in Seattle:

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