Felix Hernandez suffered a lower back cramp and left the game for precautionary reasons in the seventh inning with two out and a 1-2 count on the hitter. Oliver Perez came on and finished off the inning, but the Mariners are down 3-1 and have just one hit — a “double” dropped in the sun — off Will Smith since he entered the game in the fourth inning Smith has retired 13 of 14 batters, with eight strikeouts. So, um, yeah, the offensive struggles we saw in Houston are still there.
1:05 p.m.: Kansas City scored twice more off Felix Hernandez in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. Jarrod Dyson outraced Hernandez to the bag for a one-out, infield hit, then went to third on a single to right by Alcides Escobar. With Alex Gordon up, Escobar promptly stole second. Hernandez then uncorked a wild pitch, bringing Dyson home and sending Escoar to third. Gordon later walked and Emilio Bonifacio hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring in the third Royals run of the game.
It could have been worse, since Gordon moved up into scoring position on the throw and would likely have made it home on an ensuing Eric Hosmer line drive that appeared headed into center field. But shortstop Brad Miller reached out and snagged the ball to end the inning and save Hernandez from additional damage.
12:46 p.m.: Felix Hernandez didn’t hold that lead very long as three consecutive one-out singles by Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth. The key play of the inning was Hosmer going first-to-third on a single up the middle.
Abraham Almonte charged the ball and had a shot at the runner, but made a weak, offline throw.
12:33 p.m.: The Mariners had gone 22 innings without an extra base hit before Abraham Almonte doubled with two out and nobody on in the fourth inning. Brad Miller then tripled past a diving David Lough in right field to bring Almonte home for a 1-0 lead.
The knock on David Duffy heading into today was that, even with his electric “stuff” on the mound, he was not very efficient in games and is prone to walking guys out of nowhere. That happened today as well, with Duffy issuing his fourth walk of the game after Miller’s triple to run his pitch count up to 91. The Royals had seen enough by that point and brough left-hander Wil Smith in to face Kyle Seager, who struck out to end the inning.
11:05 a.m.: Felix Hernandez throws for the Mariners today and it will be interesting to see whether he can shake that late-August-September swoon that’s plagued him in recent years.
Of bigger concern for the Mariners, though, is the guys pitching for the other team. Danny Duffy is a left-handed starter back two starts off Tommy John surgery and that southpaw thing has not been good news for the Mariners this year. They are hitting just .228 off such starters.
Duffy is also a guy with electric “stuff” and we saw how well that went for Seattle yesterday in Houston. Duffy is the type of arm that can eat the Mariners alive.
So, some interesting storylines to follow.