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October 1, 2012 at 11:25 PM

Mariners lose, but it’s a worse night for the Angels

felixfinale.jpg
(Photo by Associated Press)
For the Mariners, it was another in a long line of defeats — No. 87 for the season, including four in a row, seven out of eight, and 11 out of 14. For the Angels, it was a victory that ended in pain.
The Mariners didn’t get the pleasure of knocking the Angels out of the the playoff race, but it happened in the eighth inning, when Oakland’s win over Texas went final. That clinched at least a wild-card berth for the A’s, and left open the possibility of them tying the Rangers for the AL West title if they can win the next two. The Angels’ slim playoff hopes, which consisted of sweeping the Mariners and hoping for a Rangers sweep of Oakland to force a wild-card tie, thus expired.
The Mariners, meanwhile, remained 20 games behind the Rangers. They’re going nowhere in 2012, and now they won’t have a Cy Young for Felix Hernandez to show for this season. Hernandez had another rocky outing, giving up a season-high 12 hits, and seven runs, in 5 1/3 innings.


Hernandez was the undeniable Cy Young favorite when he fired a five-hit shutout to beat the Twins, 1-0, on Aug. 27 – his ninth straight victory, with four of them shutouts and one of them a perfect game.
But in the six starts that followed, Hernandez went 0-4 with a 6.62 earned-run average. He finishes the year with a 13-9 record, and 223 strikeouts in 232 innings. His ERA tonight rose from 2.86 to 3.06.
“It’s not the way to end the season,” Hernandez said. “I left fastballs in the middle of the plate, left a couple of pitches up, and I fell behind a lot, too,” he said.
“This game shouldn’t take anything away from his season,” manager Eric Wedge said. “It was another fantastic year by Felix. As we continue to improve, especially on the offensive side, a guy like Felix or (Jason) Vargas are going to really benefit from that.
“They know that. They see the way our kids are grinding, and how individuals are getting better. They understand our plan and the foundation we’re trying to set, and they’re on board with it. That’s about as important as can be, because they’re two leaders of our club.”
Assessing his season, Hernandez said, “It was fine. It was OK. I need to get better. That’s it.”
What does he need to improve on? “I need to pitch better against the Angels,” Hernandez said, referring to his 0-3 mark against them this year in six starts.
Despite his skid, Hernandez said he felt good physically.
“If they need me in the bullpen tomorrow, I’ll be ready,” he said. “Just kidding. It’s not the way to end it, but I’m glad I’m healthy. I’ve been healthy all year.”
Meanwhile, here’s what Angels manager Mike Scioscia said about getting eliminated. The Angels are 88-72.
“It’s obviously a little quiet in our clubhouse. We’re disappointed we didn’t reach our goal this season. There’s a lot of good things that happened. We fell short, but we’re going to take the positives and move forward and hopefully finish strong.”
On his message to the team after the game: “We talked about [getting eliminated]. There’s a lot of thing to feel good about this year, what we saw on the field.Things
that we obviously need to get batter at. They played hard the whole year. That makes us feel good.”
On being eliminated despite having the best record since August 21st: “The season’s 162 games. You can’t really chop up the good parts and the bad parts, and say we could’ve played at this pace or that pace. We set ourselves back early in the year and never quite got to a position we wanted to be. We paid a price for it. These guys, they respected the game. They played hard all year. It’s a great bunch of guys in there, and we feel for them too because they left everything on the field and we just didn’t quite get there.”
Rookie Mike Trout had another routinely brilliant game with four hits, two runs and three RBIs. He had a triple, double and two singles, raising his average to .325 — four points behind Miguel Cabrera. I asked Wedge for his assessment of Trout:
“One of best young players I’ve ever seen, and arguably one of the best young players of all time. He’s short to the ball with power and strength,. The quickness he has out of the box and on the basepaths, the way he’s able to track the ball down, with a pretty good arm. He’s very athletic. He’s an unbelievable young baseball player.”

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