After turning his ankle in the sixth, Felix Hernandez struggled through one of the roughest innings of his season. The two-run frame turned into a 4-2 loss (box score) to the Boston Red Sox – the first loss for Hernandez (6-1).
When Hernandez caught his left cleat on the dirt on the fourth pitch of the sixth inning, it began a downward spiral. He walked the next two batters, then gave up an RBI double and another walk. The Red Sox turned a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 lead, and it stayed that way.
Hernandez wasn’t at his best, but he was pitching pretty well until the sixth. A pair of solo homers by the Red Sox gave Boston a 2-1 lead by the third inning. Shots by Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz marked the fourth and fifth runs scored on Hernandez over a three-start stretch – all on solo homers. He allowed seven hits, a season-high four walks and four earned runs over six innings – his second-shortest outing of the year.
DH Brad Miller has done enough to earn back the shortstop job. He had two homers, but Seattle got virtually nothing else. Not even Nelson Cruz (0 for 4) could do much against Boston starter Rick Porcello. Five runs in the first three games of the series? Against the Red Sox’ struggling rotation? That’s not going to get it done.
Seattle’s throwback uniforms were designed to honor the Seattle Steelheads, a 1946 member of the West Coast Negro Baseball League . . . RF Nelson Cruz entered Saturday as a legitimate triple-crown contender, leading the AL in batting average (.358) and home runs (15) while matching Oakland’s Stephen Vogt with a league-high 30 RBIs . . . CF Austin Jackson began his rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma and is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list as soon as Tuesday.
The four-game series closes with a Sunday afternoon game. LHP James Paxton (1-2, 4.31 ERA) brings a 12-inning scoreless streak, while RHP Steven Wright (1-0, 4.22 ERA) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to start for Boston. The knuckleballing Wright made his first major league start in Seattle less than two years ago, when he shut out the Mariners for 5.2 innings in an 8-7 Red Sox victory.