Felix shuts down Angels

  • By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

SEATTLE — This isn’t going to be a Cy Young season for Felix Hernandez like last year, not with Jered Weaver of the Angels handing out runs like the guy on Halloween who gives away pennies.

But Hernandez is no less electric, and Wednesday night he threw it right up the Los Angeles

Angels’ division hopes. He held the Angels to five hits and a run, pitching his fifth complete game of the season in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory at Safeco Field.

Like so many other games the past two years, Hernandez seemed headed toward a tough-luck loss until the Mariners pulled off a dramatic comeback with two outs in the eighth inning.

Rookie Mike Carp hit a two-run double off Angels reliever Scott Downs to give the Mariners the lead, and Hernandez finished the rest with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

“Felix is amazing, his stuff is electric,” Carp said. “It’s been tough to see him go out there and pitch so well and us not get the big hit for him. It was nice to do that tonight.”

Hernandez is 13-11 this season with a 3.27 earned run average, not quite in company with Weaver’s American League-leading 2.28 ERA. But, on Wednesday, he showed how a staff ace can impact a division race even when his team isn’t in it.

The Mariners, 58-77, are last in the AL West, but the second-place Angels lost a chance to close on the first-place Rangers and remained 31⁄2 games behind.

“It’s a meaningful game for us, too,” Carp said. “We’ve got a good thing started here, with all the rookies. It’s nice to have games like this. It lets (the Angels) think about that next year. It lets us think about that for next year. Hopefully, we’ll play well and be in their position next year.”

The Mariners seemed helpless through six innings against Angels starter Dan Haren. He held them to only one hit — Kyle Seager’s double in the second inning — and the Angels got him a run on Howie Kendrick’s RBI single off Hernandez in the third.

However, the Mariners and their band of young players — five rookies started Wednesday night — nipped at Haren in the seventh inning.

Carp singled with one out, Seager singled with two outs and Casper Wells reached on an error that loaded the bases. Brendan Ryan bounced back to Haren to end a scoreless inning, but it also drove him up to 107 pitches for the game.

“There were a couple of aces out there really fighting it out,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But the ABs in the seventh inning, really making (Haren) work, helped us in the eighth.”

Haren got two quick outs in the eighth, striking out Trayvon Robinson and getting Ichiro Suzuki to fly out (leaving him 0-for-4 and still needing 46 hits in the final 27 games for 200 hits this season).
“It didn’t look like much was going to happen,” Wedge said.

Franklin Gutierrez singled up the middle and Dustin Ackley rolled a single to right field.

That brought up Carp, and the Angels brought in the left-hander Downs. Carp went into the at-bat 14-for-42 (.333) against left-handed pitchers.

“They’ve still got to throw it over the plate,” Carp said.

On the fourth pitch, a sinker from Downs that didn’t sink, Carp drove it to the base of the center-field wall. It easily scored both runners and gave Carp 25 RBI in August, tying him with Danny Tartabull’s 1986 Mariners rookie record for RBI in a month.

More important, it gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead.

“I’ve got a runner on second base and right there. I’ve got to get that runner in,” Carp said. “I got a pitch up in the zone, put a good swing on it and got two.

“But,” Carp added, “the big story was Felix.”

Hernandez struck out Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter to start the ninth, then held his breath as power-hitting Mark Trumbo launched a towering opposite-field drive to deep right field. With his back against the wall, Wells caught it to end the game.

“Haren is tough,” Hernandez said. “I had to put zeroes on the board so we would have a chance late in the game. That’s how we won.”

Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog and follow his Twitter updates at @kirbyarnold.

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