This is the best season of Felix Hernandez‘s career. Last year was also the best season of Felix Hernandez’s career, and one could argue that 2012 was the same. Every year, Felix is one of the best starting pitchers in the game. Every year, he finds a way to get better. Felix Hernandez is on the Seattle Mariners, and presumably always will be.
Part of being on the Mariners means trying really hard to win, only to lose. That was Felix on Friday night, before a big crowd and as the opening act for a literal fireworks show. All Felix wants to do is win. He doesn’t care if he’s setting an American League record for most consecutive starts with seven or more innings and three or fewer runs. He just did that thirteen times in a row, by the way, which is – you guessed it! – an AL record. He couldn’t care less. The team lost.
Felix last night: seven innings, ten strikeouts, no walks, nine groundouts versus none in the air, and five hits, including a Nelson Cruz line drive homer for the King’s only earned run. This latest gem dropped his ERA to 1.99 on the year, and he’s got the matching 2.06 FIP as a reminder that there’s no runner-stranding or BABIP luck/weirdness going on here – this is just a dominant pitcher, pitching dominantly, always.
Felix always goes on runs where he’s seemingly as good as it gets, but this is beyond that. This is one of those timeless Felix months, but over a whole season. This is Felix with more strikeouts, less walks, more grounders, and less dingers. And what he’s improving from is a baseline as one of the game’s absolute best players. Felix is closer to Mike Trout by WAR than he is to any other player. Felix is impossibly good.
In the sixth inning, Kendrys Morales hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Robinson Cano. So there’s a positive on the offensive side. Cano had two hits. Kyle Seager had two hits. Brad Miller drew three walks. Endy Chavez had two hits. Some offense happened, if you squint. But if you stop squinting, you see that the Mariners only scored one run.
After the game went to extras, Charlie Furbush served up a home run to Chris Davis and that was it. The M’s couldn’t do anything against Zach Britton in the bottom of the tenth, and so they lost, for the fourth game in a row. All of a sudden the Mariners are looking up at Toronto and New York in the wild card standings, with Kansas City only half a game back. Their playoff odds are down to about 40%. This is a team that hasn’t yet faded away, but is acting like it really wants to.
Chris Young vs. Bud Norris at 1:10 this afternoon. Endy Chavez and James Jones batting in the first two spots, again. Their OBPs: .286 and .303, respectively. That’s a huge, unacceptable problem. A bigger problem: Jones has the third-highest OBP in the starting lineup, and again, his OBP is .303. This team can’t get on base to save it’s life. This is no longer a “middle of the pack” offense, this is an abomination that looks serious about keeping the M’s as far away from the playoffs as possible. But oh well, right? In Chris Young We Trust!