Yes, it's 58 games into the season and the Mariners are wasting a major opportunity to make up ground in the American League West. With all four teams playing each other, the M's needed to come into Texas and take three of four to make up some ground in the division.
Well 3 out of 4 obviously isn't happening with tonight's 7-1 loss. Even a chance at a split isn't guaranteed as they now have Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith scheduled to start in the following days.
The M's are now eight games back in the standings and could leave here 10 games back.
Most people's hope was gone long ago, but the few remaining people that did have hope could be without it in a few days. Yes, they could win the next two. Yes, they could go on a winning streak. But nothing we have seen of late tells us that it is going to happen. The Mariners have never won more than three games in a row this season.
Felix Hernandez had another so-so outing.
The stuff was there, but he couldn't command his two-seam fastball, which led to just 17 of 31 first-pitch strikes.
“Early on his sinker was going crazy so we had to go to his four-seamer,” catcher Rob Johnson said. “There was just too much sink and it was off the plate. It got him in trouble.”
“When you allow a club like that to get ahead in counts, they are going to be awfully aggressive," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
He dropped to 3-5 on the season, losing for the fifth time in his last nine starts. Hernandez is now 0-2 in three starts against the Rangers, having given up 14 runs in 17 1/3 innings.
“I felt good,” Hernandez said. “I just fell behind a lot.”
Not all of his pitches were bad. The pitch that Josh Hamilton hit for a double in the first inning was on the outside edge and low in the zone. He just muscled it out past a diving Michael Saunders.
“It hit off the end of my glove,” Saunders said.
Down 2-0, the M's had chances in the third. But a big base running mistake by Rob Johnson cost the M's dearly.
However with the count 2-1, Johnson misread the signs from third base coach Lee Tinsley, and broke for third thinking it was a hit and run. Saunders followed his lead heading for second.
Catcher Max Ramirez’s throw easily beat Johnson well before third and he was later tagged out.
“I thought I saw the hit-and-run,” he said. “Obviously, you don’t want to get the sign wrong when there are runners on first and second with nobody out. I thought I saw it.”
At what point did he know he was in trouble?
“When I was thrown out by 14 feet, actually it was more like 25 feet,” he said.
That gaffe hurt any hopes of a big inning. Figgins walked a pitch later, but Ichiro Suzuki and Milton Bradley failed to bring in any runs.
The M's were only down 2-1, but they let Lewis get out of the fifth inning on a 1-2-3 inning after he was at 80 pitches. They had him on the ropes.
“We end up letting him back in the ball game pitch-count wise in the fifth and allow him to go three more innings,” Wakamatsu said. “Maybe we were overly aggressive or just not hitting the ball for base hits at that point.”
Chone Figgins led off the fifth and swung at the first pitch he saw - a changeup - that he rolled over on and grounded out. Lewis then struck out Ichiro and Milton Bradley and seemed refreshed.
"I think Figgy obviously thought it was a good pitch to hit. We are not asking guys, especially a guy like Figgy to take that pitch in that situation," he said. "He’s swung the bat well. He ends up rolling over on that ground ball and let him back in."
And Lewis continued to dominate the M's. This is a guy that pitched in Japan last season and in three starts against Seattle, Lewis has a 2-0 record, allowing just two runs in 23 innings pitched with 18 strikeouts.