EVERETT — Kevin McLeod jumped out of his bar stool Friday afternoon in the Cactus Moon Saloon and screamed at the television, as the baseball soared deep over right field, into the second deck.
Seattle Mariners’ catcher Cal Raleigh had just crushed a two-run homer in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Thanks to a dominating performance from starting pitcher Luis Castillo and reliever Andres Muñoz, Seattle never relinquished the early lead for a convincing 4-0 win, Seattle’s first in a postseason game since 2001.
Game 2 of the Wild Card Series is set for 1:07 p.m. Saturday in Toronto. A win would advance the Mariners to the American League Division Series.
On Friday, the Mariners gave fans in Everett plenty to cheer about.
McLeod, 32, was sporting a Ken Griffey Jr. jersey and what he described as a “Mariners Moose-tache” for the historic day. He and five other friends sat around a table at the Everett saloon, drinking pints of beer and reminiscing over lifetimes spent as disappointed, yet hopeful, Mariners fans.
Their day had finally come.
“The Mariners will get them in two,” McLeod said. “Then we’ll play the Houston Astros after this. It will be David and Goliath. And we’re David. We’re the best David there is.”
Lyndsey Fox, 29, drove up from Seattle to join McLeod and other friends for the game. She wore a neon-pink Mariners cap backwards and jumped up and down, waving a foam finger in the air as Castillo carved through the Jays’ lineup for seven-and one-third innings.
“If you’re not a Mariners fan,” Fox laughed as she gestured to the bar exit, “there’s a (expletive) door.”
Seven miles to the north, a crowd sat in the sunshine at Brews Almighty in Everett and watched the game on a TV set up outside. More fans packed inside the pub and gazed hopefully, watching their hometown heroes on TV screens.
Troy Parker, of Edmonds, said he’s been a fan of the Seattle ball club “since the beginning.” For Parker, Edgar Martínez will forever be the best Mariner of all time.
“The age range here today watching the game at Brews is really cool to see,” Parker said. “Whatever obvious platitudes you could say about baseball apply to today. It’s cool to look around on a Friday afternoon and see this place is full. Sports really bring people together.”
Chris Murphy was another fan watching the game outside Brews. Murphy, of Everett, said it’s really special to watch players such as Raleigh and Julio Rodríguez who he once watched play for the AquaSox at Funko Field.
“It’s cool to have that hometown connection,” Murphy said.
The two friends and the rest of the crowd cheered when Muñoz got the final out in the ninth, securing the Seattle victory.
Brews Almighty owner Joe Kutz joined the group outside to celebrate.
When asked if Brews Almighty would be screening Game 2, Kutz grinned.
He replied, “Do you even have to ask that question?”
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen.
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