The Mariners haven’t really given us a lot to talk about since their red-hot start to the season actually turned out to be nothing more than the sparks that evolved into an absolute tire fire. That streak of mediocrity seemed likely to end starting on Thursday, when Seattle began its series against the team with the worst record in MLB: the Detroit Tigers.
Interestingly enough, you can actually pinpoint the exact moment that the Mariners appeared to get their groove back, thanks to the incredible acrobatic talent and arm strength that J.P. Crawford displayed on Friday. In an act of defiance against gravity itself, Crawford was able to throw a laser from his shortstop position to first base all while falling backwards, without setting his feet, and relying only on the momentum gained from his contorting torso to get his team out of the top of the ninth.
As you gather yourself from the shock of just how impressive that throw was, put yourself in the shoes of Mariners first baseman Austin Nola, who had to contain his surprise long enough after watching the play live to make the catch so that the effort didn’t go to waste.
“I got to the bag and it almost looked like he threw it over his head like a Hakeem Olajuwon [hook shot],” Nola said. “It was unbelievable. It just came out of nowhere. I was surprised at how much juice it had on the throw. I’ve never seen a throw like that. I’m going to rewatch it and see how it really played out because when I saw the ball, I was just really focused on stretching as hard as I can.”
Both managers were also impressed with the play, though their descriptions were a bit more subdued than Nola’s. Mariners manager Scott Servais said it was “about as good a play as you’re ever going to see by a shortstop,” while Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said he hadn’t “seen something like that in a long, long time.”
Of course, the only team that likely isn’t celebrating the preposterous nature of this play would be the Phillies, who traded away this physics-defying infielder back in December for Jean Segura and a couple relievers.