With Felix Hernandez on the hill and the King’s Court in full effect last night, optimism for a Mariners’ win last night ran understandably high. Sure, the team opposed the Tigers and Max Scherzer, but the Mariners have a great chance of winning any game the King starts.
However, the Mariners lost a marathon 14-inning game by a score of 2-1. Score lines like that one call into question whether this team is any different than the 2012 installment, or any of the offensively anemic Seattle squads before that.
Felix pitched brilliantly for eight innings, only allowing an unearned run after Brendan Ryan booted a sharp grounder. He struck out 12 batters, one off his career-high, vanquishing eight of the nine Tigers starters at least once.
But naturally, the Mariners made Scherzer look equally as impressive for his eight innings. The M’s truly had no idea at the plate against the 29-year old righty, striking out 12 times and only scoring one run on a Raul Ibanez RBI single. Even though Felix strung together his most impressive outing of the season, the Mariners couldn’t get him the win, and never came close.
Even with Felix out, the Mariners had a great chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. With two on and no one out, Raul Ibanez came to the plate with a chance to walk off. But the Tigers went to lefty Phil Coke, and since Eric Wedge had already wasted the two outfielders on his bench in questionable mangerial decisions (Endy Chavez pinch hitting for Ryan, Bay pinch running for Kendrys Morales only after Michael Morse worked a 3-2 count), Raul had to hit. He has hit 20 points lower against lefties in his career and posted a .197 average against them in 2012. True to form, he killed the rally with a double play.
The Mariners proceeded to go five extra innings without sniffing a run, and lost on an RBI groundout in the fourteenth.
The Mariners played 14 innings last night. They struck out 19 times. They had 11 hits, but hit just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They also left 18 players on base in total, including ten in inning-ending fashion. They failed to support another brilliant outing from their $175 million man, and have now lost three consecutive Felix starts.
So has anything changed from 2012? Sure, there are new faces, but if Justin Verlander beats the Mariners today, they fall to 6-11 after their opening home stand. Injuries aside, the Mariners appear to have a long way to go to show legitimate improvement, let alone contend in the American League West.