New in Take Two: A fan’s Ode To Eric Wedge.
Felix Hernandez is having another epic, Cy Young-caliber season. He’s won one Cy (in 2010), was the runner-up another time (in 2009), and had the award in the bag last year until faltering in his final six starts (0-4, 6.62) to finish fourth.
But games like last night — just about as agonizing a train wreck as you’re ever going to see — aren’t going to help his cause. While voters showed in 2010 that win-loss record is no longer paramount, when Felix won despite a 13-12 ledger, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that wins and losses are completely irrelevant. When a pitcher like Max Scherzer has a 15-1 record, that’s a powerful initial impression, even if a close examination shows that Hernandez’s total package is superior.
Hernandez stands at 11-4, which isn’t too shabby, but the fact is, Felix could easily have 15 wins himself, if not more. While he’s deserved each of his four losses, putting up a 6.46 ERA in those four games, Hernandez also has seven exceptional starts in which he’s gotten a no-decision. In each of those seven games, he worked at least six innings (and in all but one case, more than that) and gave up two earned runs or fewer. Overall, Felix pitched 51 innings in those seven games, giving up 39 hits, 9 runs, 9 earned runs, 10 walks, and 64 strikeouts. That’s superb quality. But that only tells part of the story. Here’s the game-by-game breakdown:
April 17 vs. Tigers: 8 ip, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts, Mariners lose 2-1 in 14 innings. That was the game in which the Mariners struck out 21, the Tigers struck out 19, and Felix and Scherzer dueled to a draw.
May 14 vs. Yankees: 6 ip, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, Mariners lose 4-3. Hernandez left with a 3-1 lead, and relievers Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush promptly gave up three runs in the seventh to lose it.
June 9 vs. Yankees: 7 ip, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, Mariners lose 2-1. Hernandez left the game with the game tied 1-all. The Yankees pushed across a run off Medina in the top of the ninth to win it, but the story was the Mariners’ inability to do anything against Yankee starter David Phelps.
June 26 vs. Pirates: 7 hits, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, Mariners lose 4-2. The game was tied at 2-all when Hernandez left, and the Pirates scored two in the ninth to win it. This time it was the great Jeanmar Gomez shutting down the Mariners.
July 3 vs. Rangers: 7 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, Mariners win 4-2 in 10 innings. Again, Hernandez left in a 2-2 tie, but this time the Mariners pulled it out in extra innings on Kyle Seager’s two-run homer in the top of the 10th.
July 26 vs. Twins: 9 ip, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts, Mariners lose 3-2 in 13. That one is still fresh in the memory, of course: Hernandez just two outs away from a dominating 1-0 shutout win before giving up a soft RBI single to Trevor Plouffe. Poof (pouffe?) went his shutout, and victory.
Aug. 1 vs. Red Sox: 7 ip, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, Mariners lose 8-7. No explanation necessary. Just follow the anguished screams.
Throw in the game against the Angels on June 20, a self-inflicted disaster in which Hernandez couldn’t hold a 7-0 lead, and it’s easy to see squandered “Ws” in every direction. Whether or not they will cost Hernandez another Cy Young Award remains to be seen.