On the first of three days celebrating the Mariners’ greatest player of seasons past, Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle saw a flashback from the team’s most visible current star. Felix Hernandez shook off a bad first inning and dominated for the seven that followed, beating the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 Friday night (box) in front of 40,354 at Safeco Field.
Having surrendered a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the Mariners put together five singles and a sac fly to tie in the bottom of the frame. Then C Mike Zunino hammered a Tim Lincecum pitch into the left-field seats for a 6-3 lead.
The painful start began with the first pitch when Angels leadoff hitter Yunel Escobar doubled. After a walk, Mike Trout blasted a three-run homer, his sixth HR in 73 career at-bats against King Felix.
Hernandez rebounded to retire 12 of the next 13 batters before Los Angeles C Jett Bandy opened the fifth with a homer. When it was over, Hernandez allowed four runs off three hits and earned the win. Usually in control of everything but his team’s lack of offense, Hernandez lately has seen a flip – he’s struggled on the mound but gets run support. Over his past 19 starts vs. the Angels, Felix is 9-4 with a 2.19 ERA (31 ER, 127.1 IP) and 142 strikeouts.
Closer Edwin Diaz earned his third save in four nights by striking out the side, with Trout and Albert Pujols whiffing before Andrelton Simmons went down to end the game.
The Mariners pounded Lincecum for seven hits and six runs in the first. Zunino delivered the big blow, his sixth homer in 39 at-bats with the Mariners this season (over a 600-at-bat season, Zunino would have 92 home runs). All six of his home runs this season have come at home in just seven games.
Seattle had 14 hits but couldn’t score again after the first. Leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki went 3 for 5, while 1B Adam Lind also had three hits and an RBI.
“Any start like this would be tough. I don’t take the whole Seattle thing into account. It
doesn’t matter where it happens.” – Lincecum, on getting roughed up in his hometown
The last time these teams played at Safeco Field, the Angels swept a three-game series . . . Lincecum made his first Safeco appearance since 2012. Based on his performance (3.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER) and his 9.16 season ERA, it may well have been his last. The six runs were the most surrendered by Lincecum in a single inning in his career.
The long-awaited return of RHP Taijuan Walker (4-7, 3.66 ERA) is on tap at 7:10 p.m. Saturday as the 24-year-old starter makes his first start since July 5. Walker faces Los Angeles LHP Tyler Skaggs, coming off his own injury, having missed nearly two years following Tommy John surgery. Skaggs (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has pitched 12.1 scoreless innings over two starts since returning to the mound.