By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners were torched by the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Afterward, manager Eric Wedge was more understanding about his ace pitcher than he was about the overall team, which suffered an historic sixth straight defeat at Safeco Field. The 12-4 loss marked the first time the Mariners have gone winless in a homestand of more than four games.
“There are no excuses,” Wedge said. “If people don’t understand that, then I don’t give a damn, because if they’re not going to get it then they’re not going to be a part of it. … Somebody’s going to have to have a little bit more presence in the locker room, on the bench, on the field. It really needs to be multiple people, as well. But you really can’t be at the end of August and have two series like we just had. That’s inexcusable.”
On many of Hernandez’s starts, four runs would have been more than enough. But on this muggy afternoon he simply never had it. Balls kept drifting back over the heart of the plate, he said. And for the third straight start, his crucial changeup wasn’t working.
“I gave up nine runs, that’s what happened,” he said. “I was embarrassed, terrible. … I felt good. I was a little bit up, that was the problem. Everything that I threw just got hit, found holes and just a lot of runs.”
The Rangers (78-55) nicked Hernandez for a pair of singles in the first inning. Then they broke through for three runs on three hits in the second before tacking on two runs on two hits and an error in the third.
Hernandez took the mound in the fourth, and faced four batters — double, single, double, single — and with that his day was done.
“When he left some fastballs over the plate, we didn’t miss them,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “We found the barrel of the bat, and we were able to put some on him.”
It was Hernandez’s third consecutive loss. The three-plus innings tied the second-shortest outing of his career. The eight earned runs he allowed were a career high.
“He’s stepped up so many times for us,” Wedge said. “It’s not just all Felix. He had a bad day today — it always starts with your starting pitching — but it still has to go back to every area of our club.
“I mean, I don’t like the way we’re playing. I didn’t like the way we played this entire homestand. I thought we showed signs of some fight, and better (at bats) and better play; but overall we’re still pretty sloppy as a ball club and not executing, whether it be offensively or defensively. And there’s no excuse for that at this point in time in the year.”
Brandon Maurer relieved Hernandez and gave up a two-run home run to the first batter he faced: Adrian Beltre. When the Mariners finally got the first out of the inning they got a sarcastic cheer from the announced crowd of 22,420. There was one out in the fourth, and the home team was trailing 10-0 — and hitless.
Seattle’s first hit came in the bottom of the fourth. Their first run followed in the fifth when Dustin Ackley continued his sizzling August by tucking a home run just over the right-field wall. In the sixth, Kyle Seager mashed one off the window of the Hit it Here Cafe — his career-high 21st of the season and the longest he can recall launching at Safeco.
The Mariners will take their 59-73 record and six-game losing streak along with them as they begin an eight-game trip to Houston and Kansas City.
“These guys are going to have to find another gear and pick themselves up by the bootstraps and stop the bleeding and get back on track,” Wedge said. “We’ve got 30 games left.”