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Perhaps we can now end any debate about whether Felix Hernandez should have had start pushed back to Friday. The Mariners got their win and Felix, was well, Felix in the victory.
The Mariners snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 50-43 on the season. It was fifth time in club history a team got to 50 wins before the all-star break.
“That was a good win,” McClendon said. “Any win is good. There’s lot of things that are significant about that. I congratulate my general manager (Jack Zduriencik) about that. I think that’s a tremendous accomplishment and a lot of the credit goes to him.
Hernandez pitched eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits with nine strikeouts and two walks to improve to 11-2 on the season, his ERA went up from 2.11 to 2.12. It was his 11th consecutive start of at least seven innings pitched and allowing two runs or less. It’s longest single season streak in baseball since Gaylord Perry in 1974. Here’s the list
If that doesn’t qualify him to start Tuesday’s All-Star game in Minneapolis, it’s difficult what more he would have needed to do. It’s difficult to think of a better candidate. Hernandez wouldn’t lobby for it.
“It would be an honor,” he said. “I’d love to do it. We’ll see.”
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The offense provided just enough, erasing a 2-0 first inning deficit. Logan Morrison had the solo homer off of Jeff Samardzija in the second and the Mariners manufactured another run on Endy Chavez’s sac fly in the third.
The Mariners took the lead with a rare hit with a runner in scoring position. James Jones doubled to left with two out sin the sixth and Robinson Cano scored him with a bloop double that landed right on the left field line.
“We’ve hit a lot of balls hard that didn’t find holes,” McClendon said. “It was nice to see one of those fall in. We were certainly due for one of those.”
Cano’s double was just the Mariners’ second hit in 34 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve been the ball too hard the past few days, just right at guys,” Cano said. “You are just hoping to get a single. I was just thinking something over the plate. I know that guy is nasty. He’s a guy you have to be ready to hit.”
Hernandez pitched the eighth inning with the lead. The game had to be paused as he battled cramps in his calf, but he got Brandon Moss to end the inning with a ground ball.
“We’ve seen that guy all year,” Cano said of Hernandez. “It’s unbelievable. He gets the cramp in that inning and he finishes. That’s a guy you want to play behind. Those are things that motivate you to come here every day and go out there and compete.”
Now let’s get to the ninth inning. The Fernando Rodney Experience didn’t make it easy on people, putting the tying run on first with one out. He walked Derek Norris and wild pitched him into scoring position. Norris moved to third on Yoenis Cespedes’ fly ball to right field. With two outs and the tying run just 90 feet away, Rodney rung up Punto on a 3-2 fastball on the inside corner to end the game. Punto took exception and spiked his helmet, yelling at home plate ump James Hoye, getting ejected.
Was it a strike?
“Just look at it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Tough way to end a game.”
Nick Punto’s wife didn’t think so, putting out this tweet …
Ok then. You can peruse her timeline to make that judgment.
The Mariners had a difference of opinion.
“I thought it was in upper right hand quadrant of the zone,” said catcher Mike Zunino.
With a serious face, he replied: “All the pitches were strikes.”
Here’s the graph from Brooks by Baseball.
Postgame notes …
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