SEATTLE – After enduring the indignity of two losses to the Houston Astros, the Seattle Mariners had the right man for a revival on Thursday as they faced the other, more formidable, Texas-based divisional rival.
But not even Felix Hernandez could jolt the Mariners out of their early-season slump. With more than twice as many fans – 22,917 – on hand than the previous two all-time low crowds at Safeco, the Mariners fell 4-3 to the Rangers.
The Mariners had the potential tying run thrown out at the plate in the eighth on a squeeze attempt by Brendan Ryan. He bunted the ball back to pitcher Robbie Ross, who flipped to catcher A.J. Pierzynski for the tag on pinch-runner Endy Chavez, an extremely close play.
Hernandez absorbed his second straight loss in search of his 100th career victory, but he did rack up his 1,500th career strikeout by ringing up David Murphy to end the first. That was one of five K’s for Hernandez as his yellow-shirted minions waved their K cards on each two-strike count.
In 6 2/3 innings, Hernandez gave up 10 hits – including a solo home run by Pierzynski in the second – and all four Texas runs. One was unearned as the result of a Raul Ibanez error in left field when Mitch Moreland’s liner glanced off his glove.
The story of the game, as it has been in many of the Mariners’ defeats – and they’ve now lost seven of nine after a 2-0 start – was Seattle’s failure in the clutch. The M’s were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and are 3 for 42 (.071) in their losses.
The most damaging such instance occurred in the seventh, when the Mariners loaded the bases after two outs on a single by Kyle Seager (ending his 0-for-18 skid), a walk by Kendrys Morales, and a hit-by-pitch from Michael Morse. Morse was plunked on the shoulder by Tanner Scheppers on the next pitch after he had painfully taken a fastball off his right hand on a swing resulting in a foul ball.
Morse was examined by the trainer but stayed in the game. After reaching base, however, he was removed for a pinch-runner. Morse broke a finger and is expected to be out three to seven days. Ross, a left-hander, was brought in to face Ibanez, who struck out to strand three.
Franklin Gutierrez led off the bottom of the first with a home run, his fourth of the season.
M’s acquire Harang
With No. 4 and 5 starters Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan both struggling, and with options in AAA limited, the Mariners added depth to their pitching staff, acquiring veteran right-hander Aaron Harang in a trade with Colorado for Steven Hensley and cash. Hensley has a 30-30 record in 123 career minor league appearances, including two at Triple-A Tacoma this season.
Harang, 34, was 10-10 last year for the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 3.61 ERA. He was traded by L.A. to Colorado this month, then Colorado designated him for assignment.
While Harang has not pitched this season, he has been getting work in on his own, Wedge said, and will throw a bullpen after arriving in Seattle Friday. The Mariners will wait to see Harang throw before deciding whether or not to add him to the rotation or use him as a long reliever.
Saunders on DL
Michael Saunders will spend the next two weeks on the disabled list after crashing into the wall catching a deep fly ball off the bat of Jose Altuve Wednesday night. He has a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, an injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list.
With Saunders out, the Mariners recalled outfielder Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma. Chavez, 35, hit .429 in six games with the Rainiers.
Right-hander Kameron Loe, who has struggled out of the bullpen this season, was designated for assignment.