Felix Hernandez not only had nothing going for him Wednesday, he had the worst stuff of his nine-year career. Lasting only three innings, Hernandez surrendered nine runs (eight earned) on a season-worst 11 hits and the Mariners never recovered, losing to the Texas Rangers 12-4 at Safeco Field. Hernandez lost his third in a row and the Mariners dropped their sixth consecutive contest to close out a winless, futile home stand.
Amid the carnage, Seattle fans got one piece of intriguing news as they departed the ballpark Wednesday: Taijuan Walker will make his rookie debut Friday when the Mariners play the second of two at Houston. Walker will take over Aaron Harang’s rotation spot after Harang was designated for assignment earlier this week.
But based this home stand, in which the Mariners were outscored 38-12, Walker may have his deep misgivings about joining such a dysfunctional ball club.
Hernandez had the second-shortest outing of his career (Sept. 16, 2005), and the eight earned runs allowed established a career high. Hernandez is now 0-4, 7.57 ERA with 11 walks in five starts against Texas this season. He’s 12-20 for his career as the Rangers became the first team to beat him 20 times.
Over his last five outings, Hernandez’s ERA has jumped from a league-leading 2.30 to 2.97. His Cy Young chances have crashed.
This wasn’t entirely a Hernandez problem. This marks the first time in franchise history — 37 years and counting — that the club has gone winless on a home stand of more than four games.
The Rangers victimized Hernandez for three runs in the second inning, two more in the third and five in the fourth. When the Mariners came to beat in the bottom fourth, they trailed 10-0.
Leonys Martin had the big blow for Texas, a three-run homer, and former Mariner Adrian Beltre went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. Texas produced 17 hits and 12 RBIs in what was one of Seattle’s worst drubbings of the season.
The Mariners wound up with nine hits, including a pair by Brad Miller that extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games. But it hardly seemed to matter as Seattle went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight. With the loss, the Mariners tumbled to 59-73, 18.5 games behind the Rangers.
Seattle starts an eight-game road trip Thursday at Houston. RHP Erasmo Ramirez will work for Seattle opposite RHP Jordan Lyles.
NOTES: The 21-year-old Taijuan Walker is the Mariners top prospect and was listed by MLB.com as the No. 5 prospect in baseball heading into the 2013 season. In 25 starts between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma, Walker combined to go 9-10 with a 2.93 ERA (46 ER, 141.1 IP) and is averaging 10.19 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (160 strikeouts). Walker is tied for fourth among minor league pitchers in strikeouts. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander pitched in the All-Star Futures Game and was selected as a Southern League All-Star. In four minor league seasons he has combined to go 23-26 with a 3.49 ERA and recorded 400 strikeouts (9.69 K/9.0 IP). He is a native of Yucaipa, CA.