June 12, 2012 in Sports

Hernandez struggles again in M’s loss

Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

San Diego Padres starter Clayton Richards checked the Mariners on one earned run in seven innings Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE - Another forgettable home night for the Seattle Mariners will do nothing to calm fans over two of the bigger concerns facing the franchise.

Felix Hernandez took the mound for the first time in 11 days Tuesday night and looked like he needed another week off. On the offensive side, some more fly balls that died on the warning track in this 5-4 defeat against the San Diego Padres will only intensify the calls to move in the Safeco Field fences.

Making it feel even worse, all of the futility on the mound and at the plate took place against the team with the worst record in the majors. The crowd of 13,084 took out its frustrations on Chone Figgins late in the game he’d grounded into a double play and helped thwart another rally with a strikeout.

Michael Saunders hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to make the final score a little closer. But the Mariners were thwarted for much of the night on deep fly balls that kept coming up short.

Hernandez struggled with his command and got hit progressively harder as the game moved along. He allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in five of the six innings he pitched, yet somehow kept the score tied at 1-1 heading to the sixth.

But San Diego broke it open with four runs that inning after the first two batters reached base. With two on and one out, Cameron Maybin singled to center to put the visitors ahead 2-1.

Nick Hundley then singled to right field to bring a third Padres run home, then a wild pitch scored another to make it 4-1. Everth Cabrera drove the fifth run in with a triple to the gap in right center.

It was the second triple given up on the night by Hernandez. Chris Denorfia had led off the fourth inning with a triple to right center, only to have Hernandez strand him there on a groundout, strikeout and popout.

Hernandez wound up allowing 13 baserunners over his six innings and has just one victory over his last six outings dating back to May 5.

The Mariners got their first run when Ichiro Suzuki led off with an infield single in the fourth inning, took second on a Dustin Ackley single, then tagged and went to third on a Jesus Montero flyout. Ichiro scored on Kyle Seager’s groundout to the right side, tying the game at 1-1.

But they nearly had more as, with one on and two out, Justin Smoak drilled a flyball to the left-center gap. The ball looked like a home run off Smoak’s bat, but gradually died and was hauled in at the warning track.

It was the second such flyout for Smoak, who’d had one caught at the warning track in right center in the second inning. In the sixth, with the Mariners down 5-1, the bases were loaded when Saunders hit a pretty deep fly ball that wound up caught just before the track.

Montero had actually hit a ball deep enough for a home run to get that sixth inning rally started. But his line drive wound up hitting an elevated scoreboard that extends the left-field fence and bounced back on to the field of play.

The slow-moving Montero was held to just a single.

Saunders had tried to give the Mariners a lead in a 1-1 game in fifth inning, legging out a double and then stealing third with one out. But that’s when Figgins took a called strikeout on the outside corner-leading to loud boos from the crowd-while Brendan Ryan flied out.


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