Hector Santiago allows only two hits in eight shutout innings and Los Angeles earns a 3-0 victory over Seattle and Felix Hernandez.
A mere 13 hours after a most crushing defeat at home, Scott Servais wanted to send some positive vibes Sunday morning before the Mariners’ series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I’ve been in a lot of ballparks, I’ve been in a lot of big games — for it to be May 14th and (for) that to be the excitement level in Safeco Field says a lot about our fan base,” the Mariners manager said of Saturday night’s loss before an “awesome” crowd of more than 42,000. “And I can’t wait, as the season plays out and the summer plays out, (for) how much fun we’re going to have — and they’re going to have just as much right along with us.”
Felix Hernandez followed up those comments with a promising performance that, in time, should portend more optimism for a Mariners club with designs on the postseason. Ultimately, though, Sunday was not a fun day.
Mariners @ Baltimore, 4:05 p.m., ROOT Sports
Hernandez was good, pitching into the eighth inning and giving the Mariners a chance to salvage the series finale. Hector Santiago was better, allowing just two hits in eight innings to lead the Angels to a 3-0 victory and a three-game sweep before a crowd of 40,852 at Safeco.
The loss dropped the Mariners (21-16) out of first place in the AL West, a half game behind the Texas Rangers (22-16). It was the Angels’ first sweep at Safeco since August 2013.
“When things are going well, it’s fun to ride the wave,” Servais said afterward. “But it is a long season; we’re going to have bumps in the road. …
“As high as we were early in the week, to have it flip on us in the weekend is frustrating. But we’ve played well on the road and we go out on a big trip ahead of us here to Baltimore and Cincinnati, and we’ll get right back on board again.”
Hernandez said he had “everything” working Sunday. He had better command and better velocity on his fastball, which sat at 90-91 mph. His changeup, in Servais’ words, was as good as its best all season.
“It was good today. It was the best game I’ve thrown the whole year,” Hernandez said. “I’ve just got to continue to do that and we’ll be fine.”
Hernandez escaped small jams in the first and second innings, and then proceeded to record eight consecutive outs via a strikeout between the third and fifth innings.
“He was on top of his game — probably as good as overall stuff as I’ve seen Felix have all year,” Servais said. “We needed a good outing from him today and got it. We just couldn’t do much offensively.”
Kole Calhoun drove in the game’s first run when he beat the Mariners’ infield shift with a grounder to the left side with two outs in the fifth inning, scoring Johnny Giavotella from second base.
Hernandez (3-3) exited with that 1-0 deficit with one out and two runners on base in the eighth inning. Reliever Nick Vincent came in and gave up a two-out, two-strike single to Daniel Nava, scoring two runs to make it 3-0.
In the first two games of the series, it was the Mariners’ bullpen that faltered, surrendering late leads both times.
Sunday, it was the Mariners’ bats that struggled.
Santiago (3-2) didn’t allow a hit in the first five innings. The Mariners finished with just two hits and they only got one runner to second base. The left-hander allowed just two hits in his eight innings, with five strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters.
It was the first time the Mariners have been shutout since April 12 against Texas, also at home.
Mariners center fielder Shawn O’Malley, recalled from Class AAA Tacoma hours earlier, dropped down a bunt single to lead off the sixth, breaking up Santiago’s no-hit bid. Norichika Aoki, after grounding into a fielder’s choice, was then picked off first base. It was that kind of day for the Mariners offense.
“(Santiago) pitched a really good game,” said Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta, the former Angel. “I obviously played with him and know what he’s capable of, and he did a really good job. He mixed up pitches; he was throwing really hard today.”
|A mixed bag for the King|
|Felix Hernandez’s eight starts this season:|
|4/29||Kansas City||1-0||W (2-2)||7.2||5||0||0||3||4|
|5/9||Tampa Bay||5-2||W (3-2)||7||4||2||2||2||4|