Yes they will have their hands full with the wicked Astros. But that rivalry goes very far back so there will be less a problem with nerves and more with resentment and fury. Toronto is very good and I feared it all. Somehow, the Mariners pried Luis Castillo from Cincinnati, he is the pivot’s difference and I think he considers Seattle to be a rescue from Cincinnati, a terrible town. They can beat the Astros, but if they do, it will be the fitting end of an era and the start of a new.
The Mariners will win if they do not let Altuve beat them. There have been times when the Astro’s star was coming to the plate against them and I suggested they roll the ball to home plate, anything that he could not hit.
It was terrible to see the Toronto pitcher hit Julio Rodriguez on his first two at bats, a 21-year-old kid. Honestly, I would have told my pitcher to throw and try to hit the Toronto manager, in the dugout.
Years ago, when Ichiro first came up and Lou Piniella was the coach, they faced the Red Sox, a notoriously nasty team. To make matters tighter, the Red Sox’s best pitcher was Japanese,
Hideki Hideo Nomo. The Red Sox manager had his pitcher, on the very first pitch to Ichiro, the first time a Japanese batter had faced a Japanese pitcher in an American major league game, the first pitch hit Ichiro square in the back. You could hear the sound of the pitch, hitting through the jersey, his flesh, his back.
Ichiro said nothing, but kneeled in obvious pain. Lou Piniella came out of the dugout. This was the very first pitch of the game. He did not look up. He walked out to Ichiro and put his big arm around him. Ichiro is not a big fella. They stood at home plate.
Lou looked out at all the Red Sox players, in disgust. Then he turned Ichiro and himself and looked directly at the Red Sox manager and spit. Ichiro walked up to first base and Piniella slowly walked to the dugout and did not look up. For the rest of both of their careers, I never again feared facing Boston.
I get tears, even writing about it, and have never forgotten the feeling.