Back in May, he thought he'd be back in the Mariners rotation within a few weeks, so what happened to Ryan Rowland-Smith was more than a little surprising.
He was forced to grow up - in baseball, anyway - and re-learn to trust the pitches he threw and the way he approached hitters.
The 26-year-old lefty wound up making 10 minor league starts and winning the last four by dominating Class AAA hitters.
Now he's back to face the Cleveland Indians and make just the 14th big-league start of his career. He'll face three tough lefties tonight: Grady Sizemore, Shin-soo Choo and Travis Hafner.
It should mark the game in which Rowland-Smith claimed his spot in the Seatle rotation - a bit later than expected.It's Rowland-Smith vs. Aaron Laffey.
Don't you wish all innings were this easy? Rowland-Smith dispatches the Indians with eight pitches in the first inning - including a strike out.
He got ahead in the count and used his breaking ball and, after hitting Shin-Soo Choo, got Victor Martinez to pop up on a fastball away.Easy, easy, easy.
How's that possible?
A moment of silence, please, for ex-Mariner Jose Guillen, the Kansas City Royals outfielder who tore a tendon in his knee tonight - while putting on a shin guard between innings.
No, we didn't make it up. He will miss between a month and the rest of he season.
Single, double, sacrifice fly and a run - that's how the Indians scored first. Rowland-Smith got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam allowing just that one run.
Not bad, but then it's one more run than Seattle has scored.
In the second: Indians 1, Mariners 0
Going down two at a time
The Mariners have had three hits and three walks in three innings - and have grounded into double plays three times.
That will gut the most promising of innings, and it has.
After three: Indians 1, Mariners 0
That's five innings down
Rowland-Smith isn't done, but he's already given Seattle five strong innings - allowing just two hits and a run.
One of the things that got him back in the majors was how deep he was going in Tacoma, where he pitched at least seven innings in each of his final three starts there.
Yes, he's behind. But the Mariners can't have hoped for much more through five.
Any time now, guys
Pitching and defense win games, yes, but Rowland-Smith probably wouldn't mind seeing a little offense show up.
Through seven innings, the Mariners have three hits against lefty Laffey, and have gone 10-up and 10-down over the last three-plus innings.
Now it gets harder - Hafner just hit his 10th home run with Jhonny Peralta aboard, and Ben Franciso hits a solo home run.
After seven: Indians 4, Mariners 0
It's the ninth inning - duck
Miguel Batista in to pitch, and he quickly allows more hits (5) than the Mariners have all night, and as many runs (4) as Rowland-Smith allowed in seven innings.
It's a final: Indians 9, Mariners 0