Felix Hernandez left this game in the ninth inning without having allowed a run. The Texas Rangers won, 1-0, and King Felix was handed the loss. You know how pitcher wins are the worst, stupidest “statistic” conceivable? Here’s the latest and greatest proof.
Felix opened the top of the ninth with his sixth strikeout of the night. The next man up, Elvis Andrus, got the Rangers their fourth and final hit of the night, a single. The King then issued his second walk of the night, but not before Andrus could steal second. and at that point Lloyd McClendon pulled his ace, who had thrown 114 pitches, in order to get a fresh arm in to finish the job. That fresh arm, closer extraordinaire Fernando Rodney, came in to face Adrian Beltre, old friend and current foe.
Beltre chopped a ground ball to short, with Andrus charging towards home. Brad Miller flipped to Robinson Cano for the second out of the inning, and Cano hurriedly turned to throw to Logan Morrison. But the play simply started too far to the left, and Cano’s throw was too rushed. The ball was never on target, and Morrison isn’t enough of a first base defender to snag a crappy toss. Beltre went to second on the error and the run scored. Joakim Soria had a one-two-three bottom of the ninth.
So a loss for Felix, his second of the year. Ready to kill the pitcher win yet? Look at his record and you’ll see he was credited with “losing” this game. But that’s not at all what happened. What happened is that Felix pitched a gem and the Seattle Mariners got two-hit by Nick Tepesch and company. The only run scored on a throwing error that was almost a tough double play. Felix had the best night of any player on either team, make no mistake. He was the best. He’s almost always the best. He’s at 3.9 WAR on the year, and the next closest pitcher is Yu Darvish at 2.9. He’s on pace to win the Cy Young with no real difficulty. This was a frustrating game, but it doesn’t change how amazing Felix’s season has been.
Mike Zunino led the Mariners with two hits, including a double. The rest of the lineup was tied for second-most hits on the night, with zero. LoMo and Kyle Seager each drew a walk, and there’s not a whole lot you can do with two hits and two walks over nine frames. It’s not like the Mariners were up against Masahiro Tanaka here – this was a reliever-turned-starter-out-of-necessity and a non-elite bullpen absolutely demolishing the M’s makeshift lineup. The pitching and defense may be better than anticipated, but the offense is holding the whole unit back.
A game over .500. This cold streak has highlighted exactly what is wrong with the Mariners lineup, while subsequently knocking them back into the pack of wild card chasers. Hard to win games when Stefen Romero is your DH and batting fifth. Hard to win when Logan Morrison is the cleanup hitter, since he, you know, sucks. Easy to be down on the team when they’re losing of course, but there are legimitate huge issues with the way this team is built. And now that Cole Gillespie isn’t playing like a superhero, those issues are being exposed.
Erasmo Ramirez vs. Joe Saunders. Saunders has made four mostly-worthless starts for Texas this year and I can’t stop yawning just at the mention of him. Gross. That guy sucks. Erasmo’s not a good bet any day, and so this one has the makings of a slugfest. Or something. Joe Saunders is going to throw a no-hitter. Right? Doesn’t it feel like something inexplicably bad is about to happen? Damn losing streaks. Game’s at 7:10, watch if you dare.