Felix Hernandez was talking about his own subpar outing, but he might well have been referring to the entire stinker of a night by the Mariners on Tuesday.
“I’m just going to forget about this and look at the next one,’’ Hernandez said.
The Mariners’ 7-2 loss to Toronto was eminently forgettable. Seattle committed four errors, leading to four unearned runs, as the M’s lost for the ninth time in their last 13 games on the heels of an eight-game winning streak.
“Overall, just kind of a sloppy game, as far as overall defense,’’ acting manager Robby Thompson said.
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Third baseman Kyle Seager had two errors, rookie shortstop Brad Miller had one, and left fielder Raul Ibanez dribbled an off-balance throw for yet another. But Hernandez, characteristically, declined to blame his defense.
“It happens. It’s baseball,’’ Hernandez said. “Errors are part of the game. I made a couple of mistakes and fell behind a lot. They capitalized and scored some runs.”
It had all the makings of a classic mismatch: King Felix riding a two-month surge of great pitching facing the struggling Josh Johnson, who has been battered around much of the season.
And a mismatch it was – in an unexpected direction. Johnson out-dueled Hernandez, who lost for the first time since May 25 in front of a Safeco Field crowd of 28,198 that was once again jammed with vocal Canadian supporters of the Blue Jays.
Hernandez was not sharp in this game, which was apparent literally from his very first pitch – rocketed for a home run by Jose Reyes. It was just the second time in his career Hernandez has given up a leadoff homer.
Hernandez was touched for nine hits in five innings, but the Mariners added considerably to his struggles, particularly in a nightmarish fourth. Seager booted a grounder and Miller made a wild throw to second on a force attempt, making all three runs in the inning unearned. In addition, Miller couldn’t hold onto a throw by catcher Henry Blanco that appeared in time to catch Brett Lawrie attempting to steal.
It finally caught up to Hernandez, who gave up a two-run double to Emilio Bonifacio, the No. 9 hitter, and an RBI single to Reyes, all with two outs.
“When he did miss, he missed out and over the plate, and he was hit,’’ Thompson said. “Even with the sloppy defense, we’ve seen a sharper Felix, obviously. Hey, we’re all human. He still pitched a pretty good ballgame, with the sloppy defense.”
Johnson, meanwhile, threw five shutout innings, quite an accomplishment in the context of his season. The two-time All-Star has hit hard times and brought a 1-6 record and 6.62 earned-run average into the game. In fact, Johnson had lost 15 of his last 17 decisions dating back to last year, and gave up 10 hits and seven runs in just 21
3 innings in his last start.
The Mariners’ frustration continued after Johnson departed when Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Kendrys Morales of a potential home run in the sixth.
The Mariners finally got on the board in the seventh on a two-out, two-run triple by Miller off reliever Juan Perez.
Fellow rookie Nick Franklin, returning to the lineup, went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts, and is now hitless in his last 27 at-bats.
“You hope he comes right out of it, but you stick with him,’’ Thompson said. “That’s part of the growing pains of a young player coming up is learning how to deal with the failure of it. You go into slumps, and you’ve got to fight your way out of it. This is where he’s got to maintain and keep grinding it out and stay positive. He’ll get it back soon.”