ANAHEIM, Calif. – Even Felix Hernandez wasn’t going to be enough to stop this losing Seattle Mariners slide.
Not on a night when his defense started dropping balls, his hitters stopped hitting and a 21-year-old rookie from the Los Angeles Angels showed everybody why he’s the talk of baseball.
Mike Trout drove in the first five runs for the Angels, all off Hernandez, to start the Mariners toward a 6-5 loss Friday night in a game they appeared to have wrapped up early.
Hernandez didn’t look himself for most of the night, falling behind hitters early and often. He fought his way through seven frames with the score tied at 5, but having already blown a 5-0 lead for the first time in his career.
A crowd of 39,016 at Angel Stadium saw the home side win it in the ninth when Josh Kinney uncorked a bases-loaded wild pitch that got by catcher John Jaso. Pinch-runner Peter Bourjos sprinted home and took out Kinney at the plate with a foot-first slide for the decisive run.
The Mariners fell to 1-6 on this road trip with two games to go, their only victory coming on a 1-0 two-hitter thrown by Hernandez last Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Things looked pretty grand for Hernandez midway through the third inning of this one. His mound opponent, Ervin Santana, served up two third-inning homers to Dustin Ackley and Jaso to fall behind 5-0 before Hernandez had allowed a base runner.
Ackley’s two-run shot to right was the 27th homer of the season allowed by Santana, moving him ahead of Jason Vargas for the league lead. Jaso’s three-run blast – also to right – set a career high for Santana in the homers-allowed category, surpassing the 27 he yielded during the 2010 season.
Hernandez had been 42-1 in his career when spotted a lead of four runs or more. But things quickly began to unravel in the bottom of the third when Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff double to right-center. Erick Aybar then grounded a ball to shortstop Brendan Ryan. Ryan booted the ball, allowing Kendrick to take third and Aybar to make it to first with nobody out.
One strikeout later, Trout came up, worked a tough at-bat against Hernandez to take the count full, then sent the next pitch soaring over the wall in left-center. Trout’s three-run homer cut Seattle’s lead to 5-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, consecutive singles put two on and then a walk to Chris Iannetta loaded the bases with none out for Trout. The Angels rookie then drilled a ball to the right-field corner, which Eric Thames had to sprint for and make a one-handed grab. Lead runner Kendrick tagged up and scored easily from third. But Thames was carried so deep into the outfield corner by his momentum in making the catch that the Angels waved a tagging Aybar all the way around from second.