SEATTLE – It’s difficult to describe the Seattle Mariners’ string of losses as a plummet, only because they hadn’t achieved great heights to begin this season.
But after an 8-0 loss to the L.A. Angels on Friday, when ace starter Felix Hernandez struggled from the beginning and it took Ken Griffey Jr.’s seventh-inning single to end Jered Weaver’s no-hitter, it’s uncertain whether the Mariners have yet reached the murky bottom.
They’ve lost seven straight games, all on this homestand, after beginning the series against the Angels with the renewed hope because (1) L.A. had arrived on a seven-game slide and (2) these weren’t the Tampa Bay Rays, who’d pummeled the Mariners in three games earlier this week.
Instead, Hernandez joined the Mariners’ misery in a game when he was their best chance to end it.
In his first start after back problems limited him to 41/3 innings Saturday against the Rangers, the Angels added to the ache. He lasted 31/3 innings, having allowed four runs in the first inning and four in the fourth, when the Angels hit three home runs off him.
“Emotionally, with your ace pitcher, four runs right away in the first inning puts a damper on a lot of things,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Especially the Mariners’ meager offense. Against Weaver, they barely sniffed solid contact until Griffey grounded a single into right field with two outs in the seventh inning to end the no-hitter.
“Murphy’s Law. We’ve got to keep battling,” Griffey said. “Eventually the balls we’re hitting right at people will fall. Everyone’s trying to do too much.”
Michael Saunders got the Mariners’ other hit, a double in the eighth off reliever Scot Shields, but that did little to threaten another streak the Mariners are building.
They’ve been shut out the past 18 innings after also losing 8-0 Thursday to the Rays. And the Mariners have allowed eight runs in each of their past three games.
“You go into that ballgame and ask these guys to play hard,” Wakamatsu said. “I thought they played hard. It wasn’t for lack of effort.”
Hernandez, who’d set a Mariners record with 18 quality starts (at least six innings while allowing three or fewer earned runs) until his game against the Rangers last Saturday, was no better this time. He walked Erick Aybar, the first batter of the game, and gave up a single to Bobby Abreu, then walked Torii Hunter.
Kendry Morales hit a full-count fastball to the wall in left-center field to score three runs and, after Morales reached third when shortstop Josh Wilson’s relay throw bounced away from the plate, Juan Rivera hit a sacrifice fly.
“I have no idea what happened out there,” Hernandez said. “The first inning I just missed my location.”
Hernandez started the fourth by walking Hideki Matsui before Rivera hit a two-run homer. Howie Kendrick followed that with a homer.
“The first one I don’t know how he hit that,” Hernandez said. “On the second one, a good sinker away. On the third one, a bad pitch. I wanted to do my job but I failed to do that today.”
Angels 8, Mariners 0
|Griffey Jr. dh||4||0||1||0||0||0||.216|
E—Jo.Wilson (2). LOB—Los Angeles 4, Seattle 5. 2B—K.Morales (3), M.Saunders (1). HR—J.Rivera (4), off F.Hernandez; H.Kendrick (2), off F.Hernandez; Budde (1), off F.Hernandez. RBIs—K.Morales 3 (21), J.Rivera 3 (14), H.Kendrick (16), Budde (3). SB—Figgins (8). SF—J.Rivera. RLISP—Los Angeles 1 (K.Morales); Seattle 3 (F.Gutierrez, Figgins 2). GIDP—Griffey Jr.. DP—Los Angeles 1 (H.Kendrick, E.Aybar, K.Morales).
|Jer.Weaver W,4-1||7 1/3||2||0||0||3||7||2.66|
|F.Hernandez L,2-3||3 1/3||5||8||7||4||3||4.30|
IR-S—S.Shields 2-0, Colome 1-0. T—2:49. A—37,602 (47,878).