BY SPNW Staff 01:36PM 05/27/2015

Game recap: Mariners 3, Rays 0


If the Baseball Writers Association of America voted today, the Mariners might feature the Cy Young winner and Most Valuable Player. Felix Hernandez (8-1, 1.91) tossed the 11th complete-game shutout of his career and Nelson Cruz bashed his AL-leading 18th home run, a ninth-inning jolt that broke a tie for a 3-0 victory and made for a series sweep over the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday at Tropicana Field (box score). The Mariners completed their road trip 6-3 and reached .500 (23-23) for the first time since April 12 when they were 3-3.

Essential moment

After Hernandez engaged Tampa starter David Archer (two hits, 12 punch-outs over eight innings) in an as-advertised battle of aces, Rays closer Brad Boxberger came on in the ninth. After Boxberger, a loser Tuesday night when he surrendered a 10th-inning homer to Kyle Seager, fanned Mike Zunino and Austin Jackson, he walked Seth Smith and Robinson Cano. Cruz followed with a bomb that splashed into a shallow pool high above the fence in right center. Tracked at 430 feet by Statcast, the blast was the fourth to reach the tank.


The Mariners managed two hits besides Cruz’s game winner, Smith’s double to right in the first and Logan Morrison’s single to center in the fifth. With Archer nearly untouchable, every Seattle starter fanned at least once, including Jackson, who whiffed four times. The Mariners struck out 14 times, one shy of the season high (April 13 at Dodger Stadium and May 8 against Oakland).

Kyle Seager went 0-for-4 and saw his 12-game hitting streak snapped. The Mariners have homered in six consecutive games and have 32 long balls in May.

Rock bottom of the order: Dustin Ackley and Zunino both went 0-for-3 and fanned twice each. Zunino is “out-hitting” Ackley .181 to .179.


Because of his economy of pitches, Hernandez (101 pitches, 71 for strikes) had plenty left for the ninth, a quick 1-2-3. Hernandez fanned eight with four hits and one walk, and induced a career-high-tying four double plays (also July 22, 2011 at Boston).


Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon on Hernandez: “What a performance. I don’t know what to say about the guy. Felix goes out and gets us a complete-game shutout.  Just an outstanding outing.”

McClendon on Archer:  “I can’t say enough about their young starter. He was tremendous. He had it all going and, needless to say, I was happy to see him leave the game.”

Cruz: “I wasn’t sure the ball was going out. I just got a pitch to hit (Boxberger left it up and over the middle of the plate). It was a great win with Felix on the mound.”

“McClendon: “This one sure lived up to the billing, and a three-run homers makes you feel pretty good. It was an all-around great team performance. We’re starting to hit our stride.”


The Mariners recorded their first sweep of the Rays since Aug. 7-9, 2006 at Safeco Field. The sweep was Seattle’s first at Tropicana Field since Sept. 18-20, 2000 . . . . The Mariners have won three in a row, five of six and 12 of 18 . . . Seager follow: With a grand slam in the eighth and a game-winning homer in the ninth Tuesday, Seager became the sixth player in franchise history to hit two homers in the eighth inning or later in the same game — Donnie Scott (April 29, 1985 vs. Milwaukee), Jim Presley (April 8, 1986 vs. Californnia), Jay Buhner (Sept. 6, 1992 at Cleveland), Russ Davis (June 1, 1999 vs. Baltimore) and Michael Saunders (April 27, 2012 at Toronto).


The Mariners return to Safeco Field Thursday night (7:10 p.m., PT) to begin an 11-game home stand featuring Cleveland (four games), New York Yankees (3) and Tampa Bay Rays (4). LHP James Paxton (3-2, 3.52) opposes reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (2-5, 3.49).


  • jafabian

    The continuous poor hitting by the bottom of the order can get tossed out for this game as that Rays pitcher David Archer matched King Felix pitch for pitch. Not many pitchers can make that claim. Cruz didn’t really make full contact with the ball on his home run but he was still able to muscle it out of the park though. Now that the club has hit the .500 mark maybe they can relax a bit and start working on catching up with the Rangers and A’s.

    • art thiel

      If you look at the bottom of the order for most teams’ lineups, you’ll see a lot of flaming, inexorable, raging mediocrity.

      • jafabian

        If the M’s bottom order was batting collectively over .220 and had an OBP of .318 I’d have no worries but it isn’t anywhere close to that right now. Heck, none of them are hitting over .190 currently.

  • Sam Base

    Sometimes when the M’s come back from a successful road trip they go “flat” and struggle during the subsequent home stand. They can’t afford to do that this time. This is their chance to make a move in the AL West.

    • art thiel

      Something tells me they have access to the standings.

      And if you’ve ever flown from Florida to Seattle, you may know that the next day is not prosperous for legs and wits.

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    Let’s see: Felix gets the complete game victory, pitching the ninth. Since the score was 3-0 and the margin was three runs (or less), Felix should get the save, as well. That would certainly make up for April 12th, when Rodney blew the save (for Felix’s effort), but got the victory.

    I know… it doesn’t work that way, but April 12th has stuck in my craw since… well… April 12th. But now, with the rationalization above, I can move on. Bonus – Five-Hundy, Baby!! Now it’s time to rock this season!

    ps Rodney, same deal — you owe Wilhelmsen for Tuesday night.

    • art thiel

      Boy, you’re strict. Why is it that the blown save is the highest game-day felony?

      • Long-Time Mariners Fan

        It’s not the blown save – it’s the fact that the blown save results in a tie game and we score in the next half-inning and win the game. The save-blower is then the pitcher-of-record and gets credit for the victory. It happened on April 12th and again on Tuesday – both times Mr. Rodney was credited with the “W.”

        Couple that with our expectations for our closer/any closer (he should be “automatic” — a “lock”) and our reactions when he’s not. The reaction of many (myself included) is to paint the situation with a narrative:

        (In my youth) Lee Smith on the north side of Chicago – “He’s got to make things dramatic so we’ll pay attention to him.”

        Bobby Ayala – “He’s just a born loser.”

        Norm Charlton – “Somebody sitting two rows behind me saw him at the bar last night.”

        Jose Mesa – “He’s letting his attention wander, if it was ever in the ballpark.”

        Kazuhiro Sasaki – “He’s homesick.”

        Fernando Rodney – “He’s all about shooting the arrow, and that hubris will be his downfall.”

        Are ANY of the above legitimate? Highly unlikely. But the human mind wants a story, an explanation of What Just Happened. And when we see that closer get rewarded with a “W” when his performance was so uncloser-like, it becomes a Cosmic Injustice that must be corrected.