Felix Hernandez lost the no-hitter in the eighth inning, as Nelson Cruz (who else?) led things off with a mammoth home run to center. Two singles later, there were two on and two out.
But Hernandez retired Julio Borbon on a popout. Then, after a double-steal moved both runners up to second and third, he got Elvis Andrus on a groundout. Any other M’s pitcher on the mound in that situation, given the letdown of losing the no-hitter, likely would not have escaped.
But Hernandez did and is still up 2-1. Great job of pitching.
The Tacoma Rainiers have clinched the Pacific Coast League championship, sweeping Memphis 3-0. Tacoma scored four runs in the top of the 11th to win 10-6. Congratulations to Seattle’s Class AAA champs!
In case you missed it, the Mariners this afternoon announced their minor league award winners.
Class A High Desert first baseman Rich Poythress, 23, was named the team’s minor league Player of the Year. He hit .315 with 31 homers, 33 doubles and 130 RBI.
Michael Pineda, 21, expected to be in Seattle’s rotation next spring, is the team’s minor league Pitcher of the Year. He went 11-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 25 starts combined in Class AA and AAA.
Jose Castro, current manager of Class AAA Tacoma, was named as the team’s Player Development Staff of the Year. Castro was a hitting coach with the M’s in 2008, and performed several roles in the minors this year.
Castro began as the team’s minor league hitting coordinator, took over as AAA hitting coach when Alonzo Powell was promoted and then became manager when Daren Brown moved up.
8:58 p.m.: Felix Hernandez is now six outs from a no-hitter. His stuff tonight is as good as I’ve ever seen it. He struck out Michael Young in the seventh, then got groundouts from David Murphy and Vlad Guerrero.
Big outs Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler due up next. Hernandez has retired 21 in a row.
8:45 p.m.: Felix Hernandez has retired 18 batters in a row and has a no-hitter and 2-0 lead as we enter the bottom of the sixth inning.
Hernandez has changed speeds with devastating effect tonight. He’s got seven strikeouts already. Yeah, a no-no tonight would probably secure him the Cy Young Award. No joke. The momentum has been rolling his way for weeks.
And the 19,302 people on-hand tonight will be able to say they witnessed it firsthand. Class AAA Tacoma has a 10-6 lead in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Rainiers attempt to wrap up the Pacific Coast League title.
8:10 p.m.: Seattle now leads 2-0 after three innings of play and already has amassed five stolen bases off pitcher C.J. Wilson and catcher Bengie Molina. Ichiro notched a one-out single in the third inning, stole second base, then third, then scored on a Chone Figgins single to center.
So, some run support for Felix Hernandez, who has allowed just one walk in three innings.
7:56 p.m.: Felix Hernandez allowed a leadoff walk to start the game, but has retired nine in a row since and takes a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning. Seattle scored in the second inning when Franklin Gutierrez singled past charging shortstop Elvis Andrus, took second on a groundout, stole third base and then scored on a wild pitch.
7:00 p.m.: Felix Hernandez pitches tonight, trying to build on a mounting Cy Young Award movement in his favor.
But he won’t have Russell Branyan helping him out on offense. Branyan was a late scratch with a stiff back. What, you thought it was a bum shoulder? Nah.