As bad as this was, it could have been worse. This we all know, because it was worse only a few days ago. Plus, give some credit to Tony Gwynn and the city of San Diego. To overcome such a formidable opponent on such an emotional day… okay, let’s all promise not to get too upset about this one. The Seattle Mariners lost a Felix Hernandez-started game. But this was really all about the Padres and their ailing fanbase, so fine, they can have this one. No big deal. Doesn’t bother me.
This was the first game played in San Diego since the passing of the city’s great baseball ambassador. For the longest time, it looked like the terrible Padres were going to lose 1-0 at the hands of Felix Hernandez. While the King did allow the tying run in the sixth, this loss can be hung on Charlie Furbush and Andrew Cashner, the former having given up the go-ahead run and the latter having shut down the M’s offense. But Gwynn. We’ll let it slide.
Clayton Kershaw made a lot of noise yesterday by throwing one of the most dominant no-hitters of all time, a 28-batter affair with fifteen strikeouts and no walks (the only runner reached on a fielding error). Felix didn’t do that, obviously, but he did have a stretch of retiring fifteen batters in a row. He also had double-digit strikeouts and nary a walk. FanGraphs valued this as a 0.4 WAR performance, which only pulls him further away from all other pitchers and closer to Mike Trout and Troy Tulowitzki. In seven innings, Felix was mind-numbingly awesome. Don’t let Kershaw distract you from what King Felix just did to the Padres.
Seth Smith led off the bottom of the first with a single. Felix then struck out the side. Everyone got out in the second, including another K. Bottom of the third: groundout, strikeout, strikeout. Bottom of the fourth: groundout, groundout, strikeout. Bottom five: strikeout, strikeout, groundout. Alexi Amarista singled leading off the sixth, ending Felix’s crazy stretch, and even scored after two sacrifice grounders and a wild pitch. But this is just what Felix can do against major league lineups – he tears them apart ruthlessly and without breaking a sweat. He’s so good it doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Cashner’s an interesting pitcher and probably the best thing the Padres have going for them. He had a weird day, holding the Mariners to only a run while allowing four hits and two walks while only striking out two. He got a lot of outs in the air, which is unusual for him and his typical grounder-inducing ways. But good pitchers aren’t always hindered by not having their best stuff, and Cashner found his was against a Mariners team that still bats Endy Chavez leadoff.
Charlie Furbush lost this one, opening the eighth with a single-sac bunt-single sequence that plated the decisive run. San Diego eeked out the win, and dammit it sucks that Tony Gwynn is gone. There were touching pre and in-game nods to the fallen great that made this game remarkable even without considering how jaw-dropping Felix was. Here’s a loss to smile about, for the first and last time ever.
Last game against the Padres is today at 3:40. Erasmo Ramirez gets one last chance to force the Mariners to keep Taijuan Walker down in AAA, but perhaps at this point it will take good process and good results to make the needed mark, as opposed to just one or the other. Last time out he had the results but not the stuff to back it up. Another outing like that probably won’t be good enough, so the pressure is definitely on. Jesse Hahn, who might be your mailman or perhaps that old college friend who recently moved to town but you haven’t seen him yet, is the Padres starter. Seriously, who are these baseball players? Jesse Hahn is a fictional character in a romance novel. Jesse Hahn is not real. Jesse Hahn is going to throw a complete game shutout. That’s how this usually goes.