Considering there was a full moon on Friday the 13th, it was not hard to imagine something unusual would happen during the Mariners’ game against the Rangers. Then again, mustering just two hits and squandering another brilliant outing from Felix Hernandez in a 1-0 loss was a familiar outcome in the long line of 162.For the second consecutive outing, Hernandez dominated the opponent and watched as his offense couldn’t muster a single run in support. Seattle (34-33) Sunday managed five hits for Hernandez against the Rays before he exited in a 0-0 game through seven innings. This time, there was no ninth-inning explosion to save face.
“Felix was outstanding,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It was just a tremendous outing. It’s a tough loss. Anytime you pitch that good, give up four hits and one run, you should win.”
Instead, with one out and runners on first and third in the ninth inning, closer Fernando Rodney induced a ground ball off the bat of Adrian Beltre. But an errant throw from Robinson Cano on the back half of the attempted double play let Elvis Andrus score the winning run. Beltre’s ball wasn’t hit sharply, and Shin-Soo Choo came in hard on Cano at second, giving him little room to step into a throw.
“The guy was on him pretty good. I thought (Cano) hung in there pretty good,” said McClendon. “It was a tough turn all the way around with Brad going into the hole. Everything just developed very slowly for us on that one.”
Hernandez (8-2, 2.29 ERA) pitched 8.1 innings, allowing six baserunners — four singles and two walks — and the lone run on the failed double-play conversion to go with six strikeouts. In sharp contrast to his 15-strikeout performance against the Rays, Hernandez dominated the Rangers — a team that has been successful against him over the years — by getting ground balls. He received 13 Friday.
“The difference in the ninth inning was the base hit by Andrus and then he stole the two bases,” Hernandez said.
Asked whether there were other emotions attached to the loss, Hernandez didn’t hesitate.
“No, no, not at all,” he said. “We lost the game. That’s the only emotion.”
During one stretch, Hernandez retired 15 consecutive batters before Choo singled in the seventh. The ninth inning run, after Hernandez exited the game, erased an 18-inning scoreless streak that saw him yield eight hits while striking out 23.
On the other end, the Mariners were shut down by Nick Tepesch, a pitcher they faced previously and scored three runs on five hits in 6.1 innings. He held Seattle to two hits while breezing through six innings on 57 pitches. Both hits came from Mike Zunino, a single and a double.
The Mariners threatened in the sixth and seventh innings, getting a runner as far as second base each time, but went a combined 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Tepesch was lifted by manager Ron Washington after he walked two of three hitters to start the seventh. Reliever Jason Frasor came on to strike out Endy Chavez and Dustin Ackley.
“We’re going through a little bit of a funk right now,” McClendon said. “I’ve seen this over the years and it never changes. When you don’t hit, you don’t look good. The at-bats are quick, or you’re taking too many strikes, you’re not aggressive enough — I’ve seen it all.”
Seattle lost four in a row after winning eight of nine.
“Anytime you come home, you lose four in a row, particularly off of the road trip that we had, you’re disappointed,” said McClendon. “It’s a grind. A major-league season is tough. A 162-game schedule, you’re going to have your ups and downs and you have to be able to manage them.”
Friday brought McClendon’s 61st different lineup in 67 games. It saw Seager batting second for the first time. Logan Morrison moved up to fourth while Endy Chavez sat . . . For Hernandez, it was the 58th outing of his career allowing one run or fewer in eight innings. He has received a no-decision 12 times in such outings and lost twice . . . The Mariners were shut out for the eighth time.