SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners paid one more fitting tribute to Felix Hernandez before his impending departure following the 2019 season. Although it’s one he and Saturday’s starter Marco Gonzales could have done without.
But since Hernandez’s career was filled with so many stellar outings ruined by lack of run support — an occurrence that did not go overlooked in the process — the Mariners decided to let Gonzales suffer a similar fate as Hernandez in their 1-0 loss to the Oakland A’s.
The unofficial term spurned by local fans and writers is “getting Felixed,” which is basically a brilliant start by Hernandez that was ruined by his teammates for any various reasons of ineptitude though usually failure to generate even a minimal amount of runs of support. It was long running meme before people used the word meme in this way.
Gonzales definitely got “Felixed” in his final start of a solid 2019 season. Facing an A’s team that was playing for home field advantage in the American League Wild Card game vs. Tampa, Gonzales tossed seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts and, yep, took the loss.
It’s a stinging way to lose. But in his career, Hernandez posted 131 outings where he pitched seven or more innings and allowed one earned run or fewer. He took 35 no decisions and seven losses.
Before Saturday night’s game, Gonzales had 10 starts of 7-plus innings with one run or fewer allowed. He had a 9-1 record in those games with zero no decisions.
Gonzales’ lone run came with one out in the third inning. On a 3-2 pitch to Ramon Laureano, Gonzales left a sinker on the inner half of the plate. Laureano hammered it over the all in deep left-center for his 24th home run of the season.
The A’s threatened to score off Gonzales again in the fourth. He gave up two-out single to Mark Canha and a double to Chad Pinder. But Gonzales snuffed out the rally by getting Sean Murphy to ground out to third to end the inning.
The A’s never really threatened again. It appeared Gonzales might be done after six innings when he struck out Khris Davis on his 103rd pitch of the game. But with offseason ahead, Servais let Gonzales go one more inning. After issuing a leadoff walk to start the seventh, he got Murphy to hit into a double play and struck out Sheldon Neuse to put a stamp on a solid season. He threw a season high 118 pitches with 73 strikes.
With his outing, Gonzales set career highs in innings pitched (203) and strikeouts (147). The extra inning of scoreless work in the seventh lowered his ERA to 3.99, which might not have been a coincidence. It was Gonzales lowest season ERA of his career.
The 200-inning mark matters to Gonzales and all starting pitchers. It’s a sign of durability and availability to their team. Coming into Saturday, only 12 pitchers had reached 200 innings with Gonzales and four others on the verge of reaching that plateau.
The Mariners were shut out for the 11th time this season, this time by starter Brett Anderson and three relievers.