It’s not as though this is some new development. Felix Hernandez pitched brilliantly and the Mariners didn’t give him much run support. No reason to attach a breaking news tag with that.
This has been going on at different times for the past five seasons.
So when Hernandez delivered another gem of a performance Friday night and his teammates didn’t score him a single run in a 1-0 defeat against the Texas Rangers, it shouldn’t have left Mariners fans stunned.
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Surprised? Not so much.
Heck, in previous start, his teammates failed to score a single run while he was in the game and was busy striking out 15 batters.
This time he pitched 81/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts only to see the Rangers shaking hands in celebration afterward.
“Felix was outstanding,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It was just a tremendous outing. It’s a tough loss. Any time you pitch that good, you should win.”
It was just another in the long list of wasted starts and should’ve-been wins that have checkered his career with the Mariners.
This was the 58th time in his career where he allowed one run or fewer in a start of eight innings or more. Of those 58 times, he’s taken 14 no-decisions and now two defeats.
“I don’t know about all the history, but we’ve swung the bats decently for Felix this year,” McClendon said. “Tonight was a tough night. But there have been nights when we’ve scored runs for him too.”
Coming into the game, the Mariners were averaging 5.57 runs in Hernandez’s starts. But the bats have been quiet the past two starts.
Think about this — when Hernandez jogged to the mound to start the ninth inning, he had thrown 18 consecutive scoreless innings. Unfortunately, the Mariners themselves were on a run of 15 consecutive innings of failing to score with him in the game.
Unlike in Tampa where he took a no-decision and the Mariners got the victory, Hernandez took the loss Friday, failing to get out of the ninth inning.
In the ninth, with the score knotted at 0-0, he gave up a one-out single to Elvis Andrus, who later stole second and then stole third.
“I was locked on the hitter and he knew it and he took the base,” Hernandez said of Andrus’ steal of third. “I gave up that hit and he stole those two bases. That was the difference in the game.”
Hernandez walked Shin Soo-Choo to put runners on the corners. McClendon called on closer Fernando Rodney to get them out of jam with a double play.
Rodney got the ground ball from Adrian Beltre, but the Mariners couldn’t turn the 6-4-3 double play in time and it allowed the only run of the game.
“The guy was on him pretty good,” McClendon said of the takeout slide at second by Choo aimed at Robinson Cano. “I thought he hung in there pretty darn good. It was a tough play. It was a tough turn all the way around with Brad (Miller) having to go in the hole. Everything just developed very slowly.”
And that was it. The Mariners managed just two hits in the game — both from Mike Zunino.
They probably should have had a run in the sixth inning. Zunino led off with a double off the wall in left field. With the score 0-0, McClendon decided to play for one run and signaled for Miller to sacrifice Zunino to third with a bunt.
But Miller, who came into the game with a sub-.200 batting average, couldn’t get the bunt down. After two failed attempts, he struck out.
“He just didn’t do it,” McClendon said. “That’s tough.”
Cole Gillespie did move Zunino to third with a ground-ball out. But James Jones flew out to right to end the inning.
Seattle had another chance in the seventh inning. The M’s had runners on first and second with one out, thanks to a walk, a fielder’s-choice out and another walk from starter Nick Tepesch. The second walk would end his night. Despite Tepesch giving up just two hits in 61/3 innings and throwing only 73 pitches, Texas manager Ron Washington lifted him for versatile veteran reliever Jason Frasor. The decision proved correct. Frasor struck out pinch-hitter Endy Chavez and Dustin Ackley to end the inning.
The Mariners never mustered another threat.
It was the Mariners’ fourth consecutive defeat on the homestand and the eighth time they’ve been shut out this season.
“You don’t win ballgames with two hits,” McClendon said. “We are going through a little funk right now. I’ve seen this over the years and it never changes. When you don’t hit, you don’t look good. The at-bats are quick or you are taking too many strikes, you’re not aggressive enough. I’ve seen it all. It was just an ugly game all the way around.”
But McClendon wasn’t panicking.
“Any time you come home and lose four straight at home after the road trip we had, you are disappointed,” he said. “But it’s not the end of the world. This too will pass. This is a grind. A major-league season is tough. In a 162-game schedule you are going to have your ups and downs and you have to be able to manage and keep those valleys to a low. We’ll come out tomorrow and try to win a ballgame.”
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