It wasn’t the best day for the Seattle Mariners.
Their manager Eric Wedge announced before the game that he would rather be unemployed than stay with the organization on a one-year contract extension. The annual fan appreciation night, normally a near-sellout attraction, drew 23,014 fans on a chilly Friday night. And to top it off, they lost their 90th game of the season with an uninteresting 8-2 loss at Safeco Field.
“It was different,” Wedge said of managing after the announcement. “It was different for everyone.”
Wedge told the players after batting practice, about an hour and half before the game.
“It was quiet,” Wedge said. “I told them how much I cared about them. That there’s three games left so let’s go out and play baseball and see what happens.”
The timing of the news was unexpected.
“It’s definitely been a tough day and a sad day,” Raul Ibanez said. “There were a lot of difficult things that happened this year. Ultimately, all of us as a team, we are responsible. The manager and the coaches they don’t play the games. We should have been better.”
Felix Hernandez, who made his final start of the season, was emotional talking about Wedge postgame.
“It’s hard,” he said. “It’s a sad day for everybody. He’s a great guy, a great leader. He is a tough guy, he showed us a lot of his strength. I have a lot of respect for Eric. He taught us how to play really hard baseball.”
Hernandez didn’t have one of his best outings of the season. He struggled in the first inning giving up a three-run homer to Brandon Moss and his normally quality command was wavering.
“It was a mechanics problem,” he said. “I was too quick to the plate.”
Hernandez corrected those problems and retired 13 of the next 14 batters he faced.
“I thought he righted himself and did a nice job,” Wedge said. “They came after him quick and then he settled down.”
Hernandez worked six innings, giving up the three runs on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts, while falling to 12-10 on the season. It wasn’t an ideal finish, but the fact that he made his final start mattered more to him.
“It was important,” Hernandez said. “I was trying to finish strong and get a win.”
Some pitchers might beg off on the lost season, but not Hernandez. It’s a mentality that Wedge praised.
“I think it says a great deal about an athlete when they want to finish what they started,” Wedge said. “That’s something he was adamant about and I respect that.”
With the outing, Hernandez finished with 204 innings pitched this season. It was his sixth consecutive season with 200 or more innings pitched, something no other Mariners pitcher ever accomplished. He is one of six pitchers in baseball to pitch at least 200 innings in each season since 2008. With 216 strikeouts on the season, only he and Detroit’s Justin Verlander have pitched 200 innings and struck out 200 batters in each of the last five seasons.
Hernandez gave the Mariners a chance to win. He left after six innings with the team trailing 3-2, but that quickly changed. As has been the case so often this season, the Mariners bullpen turned a winnable game into a hopeless loss.
Oliver Perez gave up three runs on two hits in one-third of an inning, Lucas Luetge gave up a run in two-thirds of an inning and Tom Wilhelmsen gave up a run in 1 innings.
Perez allowed the 3-2 deficit to balloon to 6-2 with the big hit coming on a two-run pinch hit homer by Derek Norris in the seventh.
The Mariners’ offense came in the form of two solo home runs. Franklin Gutierrez belted his 10th homer of the season, lacing a ball over the left field wall in the first inning off of A’s starter Bartolo Colon. Kendrys Morales got to Colon in the sixth inning, crushing his 23rd homer of the season to right.
In between those homers were plenty of swings and misses and weak contact from the Mariners against Colon.
“Typical Colon, he just does such a great job with his fastball,” Wedge said. “He cuts the ball, the two seamers, elevates and he can add and subtract. He went from 88 to 91 to 94. He throws the ball where he wants to.”Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish