On April 24, the Mariners lost 10-3 in Houston to fall to 8-15 on the young season. This was the low point for the 2013 season, and the team knew they had to respond to have any chance of contending. They responded in earnest, winning five of six series to get to 20-21 on May 16. They had a chance to surpass the .500 mark and make a run at Texas with a good series in Cleveland.
Unfortunately, that dream scenario for the Mariners simply did not play out. They lost a nail biter in extra innings Friday, as an exhausted bullpen yielded a walk off homer to Jason Kipnis. They lost in similar fashion Saturday, on a walk off infield hit after they had stormed back with homers in innings eight and nine. When an up-and-coming team like the Mariners loses two games in devastating fashion, they need their best players to come through and dig them out of the hole.
Felix Hernandez was in perfect position to do just that Sunday morning, as he took the mound against Justin Masterson. Instead, Felix put together his worst start of 2013 and Masterson dominated, sinking the Mariners even deeper in a 6-0 loss.
Hernandez lasted just five innings and surrendered six runs (five earned) on eight hits. He walked two and struck out eight. The big blow came off the bat of Michael Brantley, who ripped a three-run homer to centerfield in the second inning to put Cleveland up 5-0.
The Mariners didn’t do anything to help themselves offensively either, as Masterson dominated for seven incredible innings. He allowed just three hits, walking two and striking out 11. At times, the Mariners had absolutely no idea against Masterson. The loss dropped the M’s to 20-24, and Cleveland can finish the sweep tomorrow.
All that equates to gut check time for Seattle. They need to win tomorrow with Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound to salvage something from this series and prepare for two games against the Angels in LA. They cannot get discouraged by watching Felix get shelled today. That happens to Felix from time to time as it does to all pitchers. Felix especially struggles at Progressive Field, where he is 3-5 lifetime with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts. He had a similarly horrendous start right around this time last season (on May 16, 2012, Felix gave up eight runs on ten hits in just 3.2 innings at Progressive Field). This bad start and loss doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
But it could if the Mariners let it get them down. If they refuse to plod forward like good teams do and dwell on these three consecutive losses, they may never scrape .500 again in 2013. Iwakuma can win tomorrow, and the ship will be right back on track for the best Mariners team in a few long years.