Haven’t seen Felix Hernandez get lit up like this since…since…I have no idea when, actually, but it probably involved a trip to Texas back before he became the guy we know today. Back when he was still a talented-but-raw kid prone to listening to blogger advice about throwing too many fastballs etc.
A kid who had an arm, but lacked a real idea. Not the pitcher he is today.
That was a lifetime ago, but I’ll tell you what, I had a bad feeling about this particular start from the get-go. Yeah, I know, I’m saying it now and that doesn’t really count. But hear me out. Two years ago, when Hernandez was on his way to the Cy Young Award and steamrolling everything in his path, he got lit up here in Cleveland and took the loss. It would be the final whupping he took that year. He didn’t actually give up any earned runs, but it was because a lone error wiped six runs off his ledger.
The year before, he got beat here as well. Gave up six runs in that game, but an error there took three off his personal board. He did win last year, but I wasn’t around for that trip, so maybe that’s why I felt this bad feeling tonight. Who knows? Let’s just say that, the past few seasons since Hernandez got real, real good, he’s given up a plethora of runs in multiple games here.
Something about this place. Anyhow, tonight was the worst and he was done just 3 2/3 innings and 103 pitches into a 9-3 loss. He allowed eight runs — six earned — while giving up 10 hits, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch. I asked him post-game if he could remember a night like this.
“It’s been a while, man,” he said. “It’s been a while since I had a game like that.”
This was the second-shortest outing he’s had — other than when he hurt his elbow against the Twins in 2007 — since his 2005 debut season. The previous low during that span came on May 7, 2010 when the Angels hit three home runs in one inning off him a Safeco Field.
But even that game didn’t seem as bad, despite Hernandez allowing eight runs — seven earned, one more than tonight — over 3 1/3 innings. The long ball killed him that night. In fact, he only gave up five hits.
Tonight felt worse.
Hernandez just couldn’t get anyone out when he really needed to. His sinker was flat all night, even though it worked for him in the bullen pre-game. When he needed it, there was nothing.
“I had good pitches, but the sinker was not there tonight,” he said. “I thought my breaking ball was good, my changeup was good. It was down, but they didn’t swing.
So, the Indians sat back. They sat on his breaking stuff and changeups and waited for the fastballs.
And when he threw them, the Indians were ready.
“They probably saw my film from the last game,” he said.
It was real ugly at the end, with doubles by three of four batters and then a Michael Brantley single that finished him off.
“I’ll just forget about that,” he said. “I’m not thinking about that game. It’s tough, but I’m not going to think about it. This is the last time we’ll talk about this game.”