If the Mariners’ brass was harboring secret (or not so secret) hopes of riding Felix Hernandez to a new winning streak that catapulted them back into the realm of contention prior to the trade deadline…it didn’t happen Monday.
In fact, Hernandez was given a lead in the fifth inning, and uncharacteristically couldn’t clamp down on it. The Mariners suffered another crushing defeat, 11-4, to the Blue Jays. Hernandez gave up more runs than he has in a game all season (seven in 5 2/3 innings) and saw his seven-game winning streak end.
The M’s have now been outscored a staggering 42-10 in the four losses on this homestand. Rarely does a team that looked for so long like a legitimate contender hit the wall in such dramatic fashion.
It’s hard to be too tough on Hernandez, who has been one of the guys that has carried Seattle this season. No pitcher is great every time out. It’s just that this was a bad time to have a clunker, as Felix was well aware, judging by his self-critical post-game comments.
“It’s been awhile,” Hernandez said. “It’s a big disappointment. I was trying to step up, save the bullpen, and I couldn’t do it.”
“They gave me a lead and I couldn’t hold on. A lot of things were different. I didn’t know where the pitches were going. I couldn’t hold on. In the first, when they scored, I said, ‘Oh, my god. That’s not good right there.’
“I tried to throw strikes, but my ball was all over the place.”
The Mariners remained 7 1/2 games behind the Angels, and are now also 7 1/2 games behind the wild-card-leading Red Sox — not to mention five behind the second-place Rangers in the AL West.
To make the playoffs, they’d either have to jump over the Rangers and Angels to win the division, or over the Rangers, Rays and Red Sox to win the wild card.
That’s a daunting task for a team whose weaknesses (offense, rotation depth and an over-taxed bullpen foremost among them) are becoming more glaring by the day. Even the most cockeyed optimist would have to admit that.
I’d be very surprised if the Mariners at this point don’t concede to reality, shift their efforts fully to “sell” mode, and proceed accordingly during these final days before Friday’s 1 p.m. (Seattle time) trade deadline.