The hurler of the Mariners' future meets one of the most memorable personalities of the team's past tonight in Tacoma, as up-and-coming pitcher Danny Hultzen makes his first home start for the Tacoma Rainiers against Jamie Moyer, quite possibly the oldest dude ever to climb atop the Cheney Stadium mound.
Having started the year with the Colorado Rockies, and in April, at 49, having become the oldest pitcher in Major League history to notch a win, Moyer will go down in baseball history. As a reward for his feat, Moyer was later released by the Rockies, signed a minor-league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, was released by the Orioles, signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, and is now in line to start for the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas 51s tonight in T-Town.
It's old meets new, Mariners style.
Talking with Curto (who almost certainly reads John McGrath columns in The News Tribune) by phone, he notes that Moyer has made one previous appearance in Tacoma, taking the mound for the Rainiers during a rehab assignment when he was with the Mariners in 1997. He was 34.
But even before the announcement that Moyer would start tonight in Tacoma, the game this evening at Cheney Stadium wasn't lacking in intrigue. After struggling in his first start in Triple-A in Colorado Springs last weekend, Danny Hultzen - the Mariners top draft pick in 2011, second overall - makes his T-Town debut, hopefully providing the Tasty Thursday crowd with something to get excited about besides cheap hotdogs. Hultzen was recently called up from the Mariners Double-A affiliate, the Jackson Generals in Tennessee, where he had been dominant - cruising to an 8-3 record and an ERA of 1.19.
Curto, who was obviously on hand in Colorado Springs for Hultzen's first Triple-A start, chocks up the poor outing to nerves, and anticipates tonight's contest will showcase the pitcher fans are expecting.
"On the mound, I don't even really want to say what my impression [of Hultzen's first start] was," says Curto. "I feel like I saw something that wasn't typical of him." Between the nerves, perhaps trying too hard, and the experience of his first PCL travel day - going from Seattle to Denver via red-eye flight, then from Denver to Colorado Springs via 90-minute bus ride - Curto says it "all added up to a bad outing" for Hultzen.
"The box score says it all," says Curto. "It was not an easy Triple-A debut."
While Hultzen provides fans with a chance to look toward the Mariners' future, Moyer gives us an effectively-thrown changeup of nostalgia. Baseball types in Seattle have had some good times with Moyer on the mound, and that fact isn't likely to be lost on anyone during tonight's contest. At 49-years-old Moyer is chasing something that's hard for most people to understand, and playing for a different team. But he's still Jamie Moyer.
Curto, for one, is excited.
"We already had a lot of buzz just because of Hultzen," says Curto. "I haven't checked ticket sales, but I'm expecting a big crowd and a big game.
"I'm excited to get a much better view of Hultzen," Curto continues, noting that Colorado Springs lacks the amenities he's grow to appreciate in Tacoma.
"And I'm excited to talk about Jamie Moyer."