UPDATED WITH POST-GAME QUOTES
Looked for a long time today like Felix Hernandez would fail to earn that important 14th victory as he tries to build some separation from Zack Greinke (and keep pace with others) in the Cy Young Award race. But Bill Hall delivered a one-out double in the seventh off Scott Kazmir to bring home Mike Sweeney from first with the opening run of the ballgame. See the run scoring in the photo above.
Hall later broke for third on a steal attempt, made it, then scored when the throw wound up in left field. He also played a great game at second base.
The Mariners added a run in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk by Adrian Beltre.
“You look at the way we manufactured some runs today,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “You have to do that against a club like this.”
Wakmatsu also raved about the defense, which was on top of its game and enabled Hernandez to gain some important Cy Young ground.
Hernandez went eight shuout innings to lower his ERA from 2.77 to 2.65. That’s quite a day. He still trails the 2.32 of league leader Zack Greinke. But let’s see how much closer Hernandez can narrow that ERA gap. There is still a month to go.
Hall was asked how Hernandez fares with other top pitchers he’s played with. He listed him as right up there with C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets when they were at the top of their games.
“These guys, it’s amazing what happens on days they pitch,” he said. “These guys are just relaxed, hanging out on days they don’t pitch. But when it’s gametime, these guys are locked in at the end of the dugout, making pitches and trying to compete.”
Hall added: “All of these guys have great will to win. They feel like they can’t get beat by anybody and they’re upset when they do.”
As for his own play, Hall feels he has a shot to show the Mariners what he can do and that he should be considered for a full-time role.
“Nobody ever wants to be labeled as a utility player, because utility players don’t play every day,” he said. “I feel like I can move around, but I do want to be in the lineup every day. I don’t mind where I play. I just feel like I’m a ballplayer. Bill Hall the ballplayer. Nothing else. Just put me out there and I’ll try to do something to help the team, whether it’s defensively or offensively or both.
“I don’t really come to the field saying ‘I’m this position’ or ‘that position’. I just want to be out there on that field giving this team a chance to win.”
Hernandez gave his team a chance to win.
Here’s what Torii Hunter — who struck out twice against Seattle’s ace — had to say.
“Hernandez was filthy,” Hunter said. “He had the shadows. We had no chance. When he throws 96 with sink, it’s pretty tough.”
Hunter was asked what it’s like to try to hit a sinker like the one Hernandez was throwing today when the late-afternoon shadows are closing in.
“Put a helmet on and see for yourself,” he said. “It’s scary. The ball is moving in and out of the sun and darkness. You have no chance. It’s filthy.”
Hernandez’s sinker was working so well that he didn’t throw many breaking balls. Didn’t need to.
When he’s getting that kind of movement on pitches that fast, just let them fly and see what happens. Nothing happened for the Angels today.