The drama that played out Sunday at Safeco Field was interesting stuff written about by several reporters. Here’s what that national media are saying about the Mariners’ final weekend and 2014 season.
The Mariners fans had been chanting “Let’s go Rangers!” so they were very disappointed when they saw the Oakland-Texas final go on the scoreboard. But the fans soon erupted in appreciative applause for the entire season. And for good reason. This was an exciting season for the Mariners, whom Seattle fans figured would not contend again until the Highway 99/waterfront tunnel project is finished (hint to non-Seattleites, that project is our version of the Big Dig
That loss to Toronto (10-2 last weekisn’t more important than any of the other 75 the Mariners suffered. But consider the circumstances. Seattle finished the season by allowing 554 runs, one fewer than the Washington Nationals – in fact, the fewest in the game. Its team ERA of 3.19 was the best in the American League, second only to Washington’s 3.05 in all of baseball. Their bullpen ERA of 2.60 was the best in the game.
But when the Mariners grew closer to the playoffs – after beating Houston on Sept. 19, they were 1/2 game out of a playoff spot – they momentarily and suddenly forgot how to prevent runs. The next four days against the woeful Astros and Blue Jays, they allowed 10, 8, 14 and 10 runs. They were outscored by 32 runs – eight a night. They never were within five of their opponent.
Irrelevance arrived in Safeco Field in the bottom of the fifth inning Sunday when Oakland’s wild-card-clinching victory over Texas was posted on the left-field scoreboard.
That result eliminated the Seattle Mariners from playoff contention, making their 4-1 victory over the Angels in the regular-season finale moot. All that was left for the home team was for ace Felix Hernandez and star second baseman Robinson Cano to take their final bows upon being removed in the sixth inning.
The Mariners put some heat on the A’s by winning their final four games, but in the end, a tough stretch in mid-September in which they went 4-11 — a span that ended with a five-game losing streak — proved too much to overcome
Despite the outcome of the season, Hernandez has reason to celebrate. He entered Sunday with a 2.18 ERA, one-hundredth of a point higher than White Sox left-hander Chris Sale. He ended it at 2.14 to take the AL ERA title and set a club record.
It’s the lowest ERA of his career.
He finished 2014 with a 15-6 record and a career-high 248 strikeouts. During an incredible stretch through the summer, he set a Major League record by pitching at least seven innings and allowing two runs or fewer in 16 consecutive starts.
Sunday was about scoreboard watching with the Mariners needing help. Oakland already had a 2-0 lead when Hernandez threw his first pitch at 1:10 p.m. PDT. Fans at Safeco Field let out a collective groan and a smattering of boos when the A’s took a 4-0 lead in the ninth inning and the crowd was updated on the out-of-town scoreboard. A brief “Let’s go Texas!” chant started in the fifth inning with Hernandez on the mound but died off quickly.
At 2:46 p.m., the A’s closed out their victory in Texas and the Mariners playoff hopes were ended. The fans at Safeco Field responded with a brief standing ovation in the middle of Kendrys Morales’ at-bat after the A’s score was shown as final on the scoreboard.
So congratulations to fans of the Mariners, the Braves, the Brewers, and the other exciting teams whose seasons ended on Sunday. You’d probably rather be rooting for a more predictable team that’s still alive, but there’s something to be said for an exciting six months of not knowing what’s next.
More than an hour before the Angels started their final regular-season game, a 4-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners, the real action happened in the bullpen.
Matt Shoemaker on Sunday threw off the mound for the first time since he strained his left oblique two weeks ago, passing the most significant test on his way to a start in the division series.
Shoemaker said he felt “great” and that he is “very confident” he will be able to pitch in the postseason.
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