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September 7, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Felix Hernandez looks to get back on winning track against Oakland Athletics

Not much has changed since the fifth inning, other than the names of the pitchers out there throwing. The Mariners still trail 6-1 and have used the early exit by Felix Hernandez to get some work in for both Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez.
First, Ramirez pitched a perfect seventh inning while striking out a pair.
Noesi had some trouble with a leadoff walk and then a double that put runners on second and third with none out. But after that, he got a popout and then a lineout right at Brendan Ryan that the shortstop turned into a double play by throwing to third, where the runner was already halfway between that bag and home plate.
On to the ninth we go.

8:51 p.m.: Shocker here at Safeco Field as Felix Hernandez is KO’d in just the fifth inning by an A’s hit barrage. Hernandez left the game trailing 6-1, having given up 11 hits in just 4 2/3 innings. He just couldn’t get that final out in the fifth and was lucky to even have two out at that point because only a strong throw from right by Eric Thames to nail Yoenis Cespedes going first to third on a single got him that.
Right after that, Josh Donaldson hit a double to the left field corner to bring home Brandon Moss all the way from first. Then, a single to right by Stephen Drew brought he sixth run home and Hernandez was done 97 pitches in.
Donaldson was fortunate to score as he rather boneheadedly tried to do it standing up instead of getting his pants dirty. The throw by Thames from right nearly got him just like Jeremy Giambi was nailed by Derek Jeter in the 2001 playoffs. Geez, Billy Beane can’t be too happy seeing that again 11 years later.
He’s much happier with the scoreboard, I’ll bet.
6:56 p.m.: Well, that was a bit of an unexpected development. A’d catcher George Kottaras, with just three homers all season, unloaded for a three-run jack to right field off Felix Hernandez to give the A’s a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning.
Hernandez had given up a one-out walk and then a single, but didn’t really seem to be in any great danger until Kottaras went “Boom!” and stunned the crowd. Hernandez has given up seven hits already tonight and his pitch count is now up at 75 and he’s going to have to work to go deep in this one.
The Mariners are also going to have to snap their 16-game streak of only scoring in one or two innings or Hernandez will lose this game if that second scoring outburst isn’t at least a three-spot.
8:56 p.m.: We’ve got a 1-1 tie here after two innings, with Brendan Ryan driving in the equalizer in the bottom of the second on a single to right off rookie A.J. Griffin. Ryan had been htting .195 when he got the single. Just prior, it looked like a leadoff single by Michael Saunders would be squandered after two quick outs.
But Luis Jimenez drew a four-pitch walk to move Saunders into scoring position and then Ryan delivered.
Oakland opened the scoring with an unearned cheapie off Felix Hernandez in the top of the first. After a one-out single by Seth Smith, there were two out when Yoenis Cespedes blooped a single into right field.
Mariners right fielder Eric Thames got a late break on the ball, then was a little too nonchalant in playing it on one hop and it took a weird bounce and went on by him. That enabled Smith to score all the way from first base.
It’s an unearned run, so it won’t count against Hernandez’s ledger. But runs might be tough to come by in this game and the M’s can’t be giving them away.
6:50 p.m.: These aren’t the same Oakland Athletics we last saw when the Mariners were losing a 13-inning marathon at the Coliseum to close out the first half. Oakland is a changed team since then and I suppose you could suggest the same thing about the Mariners.
The A’s are contending for a wild-card spot while the Mariners have piled up an impressive second-half record. That said, don’t expect the games between these teams to be all that different.
Both are known for low-scoring affairs and that shouldn’t change much tonight with Felix Hernandez going for Seattle, coming off a loss against the red-hot Angels last weekend. Oakland just got swept by the Angels and the A’s players might still be in a state of shock of over what happened to Brandon McCarthy when he took a line drive off the head Wednesday, Last word on McCarthy is he’s doing better in a hospital but that he is not completely out of the woods yet with that head injury he suffered — meaning his life is still in danger, never mind his baseball season.
We’re all praying for him. You never know how this stuff will impact a team. Sometimes, it puts them in a fog. Other times they take out their frustrations on the other team. And sometimes, it doesn’t impact their on-field performance one way or the other.
I know that’s not much of an analysis. Just know this: the A’s are in a situation where they have to beat teams that are below them in the standings (at a minimum) if they hope to stay in this race. The Mariners are one of those and they’ve got Hernandez out there.
A tall order for the visitors indeed. I look for another of those 2-1 or 3-2 games these clubs have become known for playing over the years.

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan


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