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July 22, 2007 at 11:57 AM

Hernandez hears it after loss

Lots to cover here. The Mariners got drilled 8-0 and dropped a game to the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.
Felix Hernandez cost his team the game by not holding it together mentally in the fifth inning after failing to get a called third strike on Alex Rios with the bases loaded and one out in a scoreless affair. He allowed a two-run single and a three-run homer on consecutive pitches after that.
Got a stern talking to after the game in his manager’s office. As he should have. This is the second time in as many starts that Hernandez has let his emotions get the better of him on the mound. Yes, he is only 21. But he isn’t the “King” of anything yet and can’t start throwing games out the window. And it’s not just the coaching staff that has to tell him that. He let his team down, many of them veterans busting their tails to win an important game.
Somebody inside that clubhouse, preferably a veteran pitcher, has to say something to Hernandez and let him know this type of behavior is unacceptable. He quit on his team today by not keeping his emotions in check. That’s not fair to the other nine guys playing the game alongside him. Miguel Batista, Jarrod Washburn, J.J. Putz, even Jeff Weaver, are all qualified to step up to Hernandez and let him know that he let them all down.
Hernandez had this to say afterwards.
“You can’t do things like that, you can’t lose your focus,” he said. “You have to stay in the game. That’s the wrong thing I did. I lost my focus. That’s what happened in that inning.”
Everyone knew it, too. Kenji Johjima jogged out to the mound seconds after the ball had been called instead of a strike.
“We understand how he feels but to show an attitude like that is not going to do anything good for us,” Johjima said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “It wasn’t like the game was over at that point. The count was still 2-2 and we had another chance to get the guy out.
“That’s why I went out to the mound and made him focus on the next pitch. Because as long as we can get the guy out we still had a big chance of getting out of the inning.”
Hear what Hernandez had to say right here.
At the end of the clip, a reporter asks him what he’ll do the next time. Hernandez says he doesn’t know because it hasn’t happened yet.
Hopefully, he already knows. Hopefully what McLaren said to him today gets through faster than did those earlier messages about needing to mix up his pitches earlier on in games and not throw only fastballs.
Does McLaren need to deliver the message more harshly? Maybe as harshly as he delivered one to umpire Chad Fairchild in that fifth inning after being ejected?
“I don’t think screaming’s the answer for it,” McLaren said. “It’s just something he’s going to have to get. And the sooner he gets it, the better off he’s going to be and we’re going to be.”
Maybe so. We’ll see what happens.
Seattle is now at 22 consecutive scoreless innings. The M’s have scored more than four runs only three times in the first 10 games since the All-Star Break. They had just 12 hits in the three games here.
Yes, they have played some tough teams. But things will only get tougher once the pressure mounts in the final two months.
Richie Sexson is just 4-for-27 (.148) since the All-Star Break. We’ll keep putting the numbers up. Not sure what else anyone expects.
Seattle had just two hits before the ninth inning, doubles in the second and eighth by Adrian Beltre and Kenji Johjima.
But McLaren isn’t panicking yet. This team continues to stick with its slumping veterans. It appears to have woken up Jose Vidro, red hot since the break. Not so with Sexson. Thing is though, Sexson at full-throttle is much better than Ben Broussard doing the same. That’s what the team seems to believe. As I’ve said before, the team may not feel Broussard’s best is good enough every day. So, it keeps holding out hope that the second-half Sexson awakens.
Will McLaren make any moves at all? We’ll find out soon. The heat can be off in a hurry if the M’s go to Texas and pound Rangers pitching. Hear what he’s saying about it.
“I think every now and then you’re going to run through streaks where the other team does a good job pitching and you don’t get anything going,” McLaren said. “We just ran into a couple of buzz saws.”
McLaren explained his strategy about walking Lyle Overbay intentionally to get to right handed hitting Rios — batting .400 with four games of three or more hits since the break. Hear it right here.
“I knew it was going to be a low scoring game,” McLaren said. “Felix does much better against right handed hitters. I thought we had a chance if he (Rios) hits one right at us, of getting a double play.”
Didn’t happen. The M’s lose. They are 5-5 since the break. Time to start winning a few in a row.



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