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In the search for positives, the Mariners actually scored a run for Felix Hernandez while he was pitching in the game – so that’s a start.
They hadn’t done that in his previous two outings. Hernandez tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks. Yet that wasn’t enough.
But he didn’t get a win for his effort and the Mariners didn’t either.
An announced crowd of 27,523 got to Seattle squander yet another gem from Hernandez on Wednesday night.
In his last three starts, he’s pitched a total 22 1/3 innings, giving up just two earned runs and striking out 31 batters. What does have to show for it? A loss and two no-decisions. Even worse, the Mariners lost two of those games.
“It was a tough game for the Seattle Mariners, not just Felix,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “They had their best guy on the mound and we had our best guy on the mound. It was one of those games where you know it’s going to be close. Any time we don’t score runs for Felix, we can’t just say it’s a tough game for Felix. It’s a tough game for the Seattle Mariners. It was unfortunate that we came out on the short end of the stick.”
Hernandez is used to this type of disappointment. It was the 32nd start in his career where he pitched seven innings or more and allowed one run or less and didn’t get a win (28 no decisions, four losses). Yes, that’s 32.
Not that he has ever let on that the lack of run support and missed wins bothers him.
“It’s hard for the team,” he said. “I’m not worried about getting the decision. I just care about winning as a team.”
Hernandez was done after 97 pitches. Why did Lloyd take him out?
“I have to be careful with all my pitchers, including Felix,” he said. “It was a stressful inning. He gave us everything he had that inning. And he probably wanted to go back out, but I got to keep the big picture in mind.”
The only run he allowed came on a wild pitch with Alexi Amarista at third.
“That was bad,” Hernandez said. “It was a change-up and I threw it too hard.”
Zunino tried to block it, but it bounced off his torso.
“It’s tough with changeups,” Zunino said. “You just have to beat it to the spot. I thought I got there, but it just bounced a little off my right side.”
The loss was charged to Charlie Furbush, who replaced Hernandez to start the eighth inning in a 1-1 game.
Furbush gave up an odd infield single to speedy Everth Cabrera to start the inning. Cabrera hit a high chopper in between the mound and third. Furbush initially went to field the ball but then moved to let third baseman Kyle Seager make the play.
“I was going for it the whole way,” Furbush said. “I thought I could make a play. But Seager called me off. And as pitchers, we have to listen to our infielders.”
But Seager didn’t make the play. The ball took an odd hop and stayed on the turf. Not there was much of a play to be made with Cabrera running.
“It kicked the ground and had a lot of spin on it and bounced away from me,” Seager said. “My thought process was that Charlie could have caught it, but he was running away from the ball and first base and that’s asking a whole lot from somebody while their running away to spin and throw it on the dot. Looking back, I probably should have let Charlie take a shot, but either way, with the way he runs, it would have been a really tough play.”
Even if Seager field it cleanly or he lets Furbush field it, I doubt they get Cabrera at first.
From there, the Padres pieced together the run. Alexi Amarista bunted Cabrera to second. Pinch hitter Tommy Medica put the Padres up 2-1, blooping a single to center on a 0-2 pitch to score Cabrera.
“It was slider,” Furbush said. “That’s just the way game goes. It was down in the zone and he went down and got it.”
Seattle’s one run came in the second inning against Padres starter Andrew Cashner. With one out, Mike Zunino was hit by a pitch and then advanced to third on Dustin Ackley’s single to left-center. Zunino trotted home on a hard RBI single through the left side from Brad Miller to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
The Mariners did little else against Cashner, who pitched seven innings allowing the one run on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Like Hernandez, he didn’t figure in the decision. His record remains 2-6 on the season, but his ERA sank to 2.30.
Seattle should have pushed the lead to 2-0 in the top of the sixth. Logan Morrison led off with a double and then moved to third on a passed ball. But the Mariners never scored him. Zunino popped up to short. Ackley’s hard ground ball with a drawn-in infield was knocked down by Amarista for an out. They walked Miller intentionally to get to Felix. He grounded out to end the inning.
“For me, that was probably the ball game,” McClendon said. “It gives us a little bit of cushion against a team that was struggling to score runs. That was tough.”