The Tigers’ bullpen was already celebrating what looked to be a sure walk-off homer off the bat last Wednesday. It had that sound. It had that look. It had that trademark eruption from a season-high crowd at Comerica Park.
But Jake Fraley spoiled those celebrations by snowconing the sky-high liner from Isaac Paredes in the bottom of the ninth with his entire right arm above the left-field fence -- and directly in front of those Detroit relievers who still had their hands hoisted over their heads, thinking they were headed to the plate to take part in a Gatorade shower.
It was the catch of the season for the Mariners, who went on to a 9-6 win in the 11th inning, and it’s certainly in the conversation for all of Major League Baseball. In the short term, Fraley's splendor was feted on Monday as the Play of the Week.
Beyond the fans and Tigers’ bullpen, even most of the Mariners thought this one was gone. The ball left Paredes’ bat at 96.5 mph and it traveled a projected 369 feet. Statcast measured that it would’ve been a homer in 10 big league ballparks.
Manager Scott Servais: “I'm holding my breath. That's what you do in the dugout -- you hold your breath and hope he can get under it. I knew it was going to be close. But the other thing for me is watching the replay up on the board afterwards, looking, their bullpen, side angle, everybody in their bullpen is up, and then they just dropped their head. And we were going crazy.”
It was the second win on the road trip that had Fraley’s stamp on it. After an incredibly tough 2020, in which he was basically limited to the alternate training site, then a stalled start to ’21 with a left hamstring strain that sidelined him nearly two months, Fraley is healthy, happy and producing.
“It's everything,” Fraley said. “When you go through tough times in this game, man, you learn real quick that you’ve just got to put your head down and keep going forward. And that's exactly what I've done. ... I'm just coming out there every single night to try to have as much fun as I can.”