SEATTLE – A week ago, Chris Flexen suffered through the sort of outing that got him banished from Major League Baseball and exiled to a season of pitching in Korea.
His stuff was flat, his command was nonexistent and the results were abysmal. The Padres rocked him for eight runs on 10 hits in just 1 2/3 innings. It was his worst outing in his first season as a Mariners uniform.
He was angry and embarrassed. His frustration could be felt through the video screen without even saying a word. When he did speak, the tone of his voice was pure disgust, mostly with himself, his performance and a 16-1 loss.
His words reflected his mood.
“I threw a lot of (expletive) pitches over the middle of the plate and I got hammered,” he hissed. “And that’s what they’re supposed to do with those kind of pitches. I really screwed the bullpen and didn’t do my job very well today.”
But the beauty of baseball is there almost always is another game and another opportunity to right the past wrongs or at least a chance to help yourself forget.
For Flexen, it came six days later on a chilly Thursday at T-Mobile Park vs. the Rangers.
And this time, he did his job something better than well. He was outstanding in the Mariners’ comfortable 5-0 win over Texas to open the seven-game homestand.
Flexen delivered his best outing as a member of the Mariners, pitching seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits with a walk and six strikeouts to pick up his first win of the season and help the Mariners improve to 24-27 on the season.
He was everything that he wasn’t in that last start – efficient, aggressive early in counts, pinpoint with his command and effective in all aspects.
He fired first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 24 batters he faced. And when he didn’t throw a strike on the first pitch, he came back with one immediately.
He didn’t allow a ball to be hit with over 100 mph exit velocity in the entire game. And of his 87 pitches thrown, he threw 60 strikes with 12 swings and misses.
His teammates provided him with requisite, but minimal run support early in the game.
Facing lefty Kolby Allard, Tom Murphy and Jacob Nottingham smashed back-to-back solo home runs to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.
Murphy crushed a 1-2 fastball off the digital scoreboard in left-center for his fifth homer of the season. Nottingham followed with towering blast down the left field line that bounced off the foul pole.
It was the only two hits Seattle registered over the first six innings. But in the seventh, Ty France led off with a single, Murphy added a one-out single and Nottingham walked to load the bases. Texas went to right-handed reliever Brett Martin. But Jack Mayfield greeted him with a double off the wall in left-center to score two runs and push the lead to 4-0. Mitch Haniger added an RBI single in the inning.