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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Final game feels familiar

Kirby Arnold Everett Herald

SEATTLE — The end looked awfully similar to the beginning. And the middle, for that matter.

The Seattle Mariners struggled to get an out, labored to score a run and lost their final game of the season.

The Oakland A’s scored five runs in the eighth inning and beat the Mariners 8-3 Sunday at Safeco Field, sending the M’s into an uncertain future.

That much was evident by the postgame scene in the clubhouse.

Manager Mike Hargrove spoke only generally about next year’s plan for pitching phenom Felix Hernandez.

Hernandez gave up eight hits and three runs in seven innings, leaving him with a no-decision and a final 4-4 record with 2.67 earned run average.

What’s next? An opening-night start and status as the staff ace?

“Mentally, he showed this year that it’s something he could handle,” Hargrove said. “But I don’t know if that would be fair to him.”

Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning – the only happy little sunbeam of a dreary day for the offense – to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. It was his 20th home run and gave him 89 runs batted in, not nearly enough in his own final analysis.

“It gives me a positive to finish off the season, but I didn’t perform the way I thought I could or the way I should,” Ibanez said.

Players packed their bags, hugged each other good-bye and exchanged phone numbers, most of them with smiles.

At his locker, though, Shigetoshi Hasegawa tried not to tear up.

His contract with the Mariners ends after this season. At age 37 and after 15 pro seasons in the United States and Japan, Hasegawa knew he might not play again.

Rookie Mike Morse agonized over an 0-for-3 game because it dropped his final batting average to .278. He had started the day at .282 and desperately wanted to finish at .280 or higher.

“But hey, .278 is close to .280,” Morse said. “If somebody asks, I’ll just say I hit .280.”

The coaches’ room was especially crowded with well-wishers, a typical occurrence on the final day for a group of guys whose status is year-to-year. Several M’s pitchers made sure to say good-bye to pitching coach Bryan Price, who may learn today if he will return.

He was the only holdover from last year’s coaching staff who Hargrove retained, and if it’s over for Price, it’ll end an 18-year relationship with the Mariners. They signed him as a minor league pitcher in 1987 and, after several years as the minor league pitching coordinator, Price worked as the major league pitching coach the past six seasons.

Relief pitcher Julio Mateo, who gave up two hits and a late run Saturday, allowed three hits and another run Sunday and got a mock cheer from the crowd when he finally recorded an out.

George Sherrill gave up four runs and didn’t get anybody out in the A’s big eighth inning, ballooning his ERA from 3.32 to 5.21.

Ichiro Suzuki had an infield single for his 206th hit and a 1-for-4 game that left his batting average at .303. He’s never batted less than .300 in his 12 years in the U.S. and Japan major leagues.

In the end, not much has felt good for the Mariners this year, and nothing changed Sunday.

“I’ll miss it like a sore tooth,” Hargrove said.

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