Something To Remember:  Seattle Mariners 2014 Season Rewind

Expectations Now Higher Than Ever

From the streak of games Felix Hernandez put together pitching seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs, or playing meaningful games until the last day of the regular season, the 2014 Seattle Mariners certainly are something to remember.

As the postseason progresses without the Mariners I thought I’d take some time to review some of my most memorable moments from the 2014 Seattle Mariners both good and bad.

Strange Injuries

Kuma and chain link don't get along, apparently.

Kuma and chain link don’t get along, apparently.

I have to admit, when Hisashi Iwakuma came up lame with a messed up finger on his pitching hand because he got it caught in a fence, I said to myself, “Now, that’s a new one.”

During spring training Kuma was throwing near a chain link fence and somehow snagged a finger during his pitching motion.  Note to Hisashi: Stay clear of all chain link fences from now on.

Another strange one has to be the mystery of Franklin Gutierrez.  After endless injuries and illnesses it appeared after the Seattle Mariners resigned the savvy centerfielder than Gutierrez was finally going to put in a full year’s work.

Think again.  Before spring training started he was placed on the restricted list for the year to battle more stomach issues.

I really feel for Gutierrez.  What a bizarre string of problems he’s had to deal with and there seems to be no end in sight.

Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks

The Mariners started off the year with a bang as they beat up on the Angels early posting 16 runs in the season’s first two games.  The Angels unfortunately had the last laugh as they went on to capture the AL West crown but those early April wins gave the M’s and their fans hope in the early part of the season.

After winning their home opener the Mariners had won three consecutive games against the Angels and things were really looking up.

That hope faded quickly as the Mariners entered the second half of April.  Beginning April 15th the Mariners began their worst losing streak of the season, dropping eight games in a row including three to the Rangers, three to the Marlins and two to the Astros.

Things looked bleak at that point and the most Mariner fans were rolling their eyes and thinking, “Here we go again.”

New M’s skipper Lloyd McClendon wasn’t having any of it though.  He believed in the team and for the next three weeks the Mariners won 13 of their next 15 ball games which turned out to be their best  stretch of baseball in 2014.

The Mariners had truly gone from the brink, to the top during mid April to mid May.

All Hail The King

Felix Hernandez turned in the finest season of his career in 2014.  On Mt. Saint Helens Day Felix’s pitching erupted and he didn’t stop for nearly the next three months.

New MLB records? No problem for the King.

New MLB records? No problem for the King.

You see ,on May 18th, 2014 Felix began a streak that went on to establish a new MLB record.  In that start he pitched at least seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs.  That’s something that is now known in this golden age of baseball statistics as an “ultra-quality start”.

The fact that he only allowed two runs in seven innings is really nothing new for Felix but the fact that he did it again 15 consecutive times over the next three months is what set that MLB record.

A streak of pitching like the one Felix threw from mid May until mid August is something that you’ll likely never see again in lifetime of watching baseball.  No one should discount what Felix accomplished in those 16 starts.

That streak combined with the rest of his year which was nearly just as stellar will likely earn Felix the 2014 AL Cy Young Award.

The Birth Of A New Star

Think back about 4-5 years ago to the Mariners very promising young hitters.  They had just acquired a slugging first baseman named Justin Smoak, they had some prized catching future star named Jesus Montero, they had just drafted a hitting sensation in Dustin Ackley, oh and they had some kid that came in the 3rd round that might have a shot of someday being a utility guy named Kyle Seager.

Fast forward back to today and Seager is the star and one has to wonder if any of the others will ever live up their promise at this point.

Seager’s rise to stardom is even more intriguing when you remember how he had to learn to play 3rd base in the majors just to stay on the team.  Not only has Seager learned to play 3rd he’s turn himself into an All-Star third baseman both defensively and offensively turning in his finest season in 2014.

For the year, Seager hit .268, smashed 25 homers and just missed the 100 RBI plateau driving in 96 runs on the year.  Not bad for the kid who was an afterthought just a few years ago.

Raise your hand if you said in 2009-2010 that Kyle Seager will have the greatest baseball career between Smoak, Montero and Ackley. 

Yah, didn’t think so and neither did I.

Game 162

As late as September 19, 2014 I would have bet you just about anything that the Mariners were going to make their first post season appearance in over a decade.  Unfortunately for the M’s, on the 20th of September they began a short losing streak where they lost five games in a row including a pair to the Houston Astros and three more against the Blue Jays.

The losing streak pushed the Mariners post season hopes to the brink.  With just four games left in the season they were mathematically still alive but pretty much had to win all four remaining games on their schedule and even then, still might get eliminated.

McClendon's fiery personality wouldn't let the M's quit.

McClendon’s fiery personality wouldn’t let the M’s quit.

It was then that the Mariners really showed me something special.  Virtually eliminated from the postseason the Mariners and their gritty manager showed the world what they would fight till the bitter end.

Following the worst start of the year by their ace Felix Hernandez the M’s went on to win their remaining four games.  The Athletics did their part too in that they kept losing at least until game number 162.

Felix got the call for the final Seattle Mariners game in the regular season.  The M’s were still alive and Felix pitched his heart out until the top of the 6th inning.

The Athletics had started their game a bit earlier in the day and won.  It was in that fateful bottom half of the 5th that the Mariners, despite winning their game number 162, had been eliminated from the postseason.

Felix went out and recorded one out in the top of the 6th and then departed from the mound to a standing ovation from a packed Safeco Field crowd.  There was barely a dry eye in the house, including those of the Mariner’s ace hurler.

The Aftermath

The Mariners had fallen one game short in 2014.  You can point to any number of games in their season and say, “in this game if only they’d….”

Unfortunately saying “if” doesn’t change the facts of the year.  The M’s were close, closer than they’d been in what seems like forever but it wasn’t meant to be in 2014.

The good news for the Seattle Mariners and their fans is that hope and expectations have never been higher.

The vast majority of the M’s amazing pitching staff is set to return in 2015.  Mariner’s GM Jack Zduriencik has already stated that the club will expand payroll and that their top priority is to add much needed punch to the middle of the lineup.

It was a season to remember in 2014 for Northwest baseball fans.  The Seattle Mariners have finally turned the corner with this team and the future finally looks bright once again.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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