BY SPNW Staff 10:50PM 04/11/2013

Even Felix can’t stop the early Mariners slide

Former teammate and now Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre had two hits and a handshake from Felix Hernandez Thursday night. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The 2013 home debut Thursday night of Felix Hernandez brought out to Safeco Field a decent (22,917) crowd clad in “Supreme Court” yellow T-shirts, but it was of minimal influence to the Texas Rangers (7-3), who bested the Mariners’ $175 million ace 4-3 to run a losing streak to three games. The Mariners (4-7) left 10 men on base, nine in scoring position.

Hernandez reached a milestone with his 1,500th career strikeout, but fell to 1-2 this season as he gave up all four runs on 10 hits, with two walks and five strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Hernandez lacked his usual command on fastball and the Rangers took advantage to deny him his 100th career win.

Franklin Gutierrez put the Mariners up 1-0 with a homer in the first, but Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski rocked Hernandez with a homer in the second inning. After an error by left fielder Raul Ibanez put on Mitch Moreland, Leonys Martin moved him to second with a single. from where he scored an unearned run on a single by Elvis Andrus.

In the third, Gutierrez tied the game at 2 with a bases-loaded infield out.

The Rangers reached Hernandez for two runs in the fifth with three singles, a walk and a double by Nelson Cruz that plated Lance Berkman with what proved to be the game winner.

In the eighth, after jam-shot bloop singles into right by Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero, Robert Andino’s infield out scored Smoak. Endy Chavez, called up from Tacoma earlier in the day and pinch-running for Montero, was out at the plate after a suicide squeeze bunt by Brendan Ryan went too quickly to relief pitcher Robbie Ross, who flipped to Pierzynski for the tag.

In the seventh inning, OF Mike Morse was hit on the right hand with a pitch. He was taken from the game and replaced by pinch-runner Jason Bay, who moved into the outfield. Morse, Smoak and Montero each had two hits.

After the game, Morse was said to have a non-displaced fracture of the little finger. He will be out three to seven days, but manager Eric Wedge said there would be no roster changes.

Saunders out, Chavez in

OF Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list with sprained right shoulder. He made a catch at the wall in the first inning of Wednesday’s game against Houston and ran hard into the wall, fell and had to leave the game.

Saunders had a seven-game hitting streak going with .286 average, one homer and five RBIs.

“It’s going to be a couple weeks, at least,” manager Eric Wedge said before the game. “Trust me, he did not want to go on the DL. He’s got that hockey mentality. But we’ve got to do what’s best for him and the ballclub.”

To replace him the Mariners called up 11-year veteran Endy Chavez, 35, from AAA Tacoma. Chavez is a career .269 hitter who was the Opening Day left fielder for Seattle in 2009 before suffering a serious knee injury in a collision with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

In six games with the Rainiers this season, Chavez hit .429 with a double, RBI and three walks. He had a .484 on-base percentage, and was hitting .462  vs. right-handed pitching.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated relief pitcher D.J. Mitchell for assignment. Mitchell, 25, was one of the two minor league pitchers the Mariners received from the Yankees in the July trade for Ichiro.


  • jafabian

    Nice to see Chavez back in a Mariner uniform. He was having such a solid season in 2009 before his injury. I think at some point the pitching will come around though it’s disheartening to see Smoak, Montero and Ackley batting like the fences were moved out instead of in. At least Smoak is walking more.

  • Will

    Once again a successful spring training proves… nothing. As for the pitching eventually “coming around”, by then they will be 15-30 and desperate. The M’s will then begin the parade of bringing-up minor league talent and office management will be crooning, “Next season will be different.”

  • bugzapper

    Besting a $25 mil-a-year Seattle player is just payback Texas style. Remember what we did to them after they signed A-Roid for $25 large/yr? 15-5 in 2001, 13-7 in 2002, 10-10 in 2003. Of course, $25 mil today isn’t worth what it was in 2001, so we still have the edge financially. OTOH, Texas has been to the World Series twice. The M’s? Don’t go there. They sure don’t.

  • bugzapper

    P.S. “To deny Felix his 100th career win…”

    If he were pitching for a real team he would have had #100 three years ago. The reason you win a Cy Young with a 13-12 record, and are still in the running at 13-9, is because you’re pitching lights out while your bullpen and hitters suck more wind than a fleet of industrial-strength Shop-Vacs.