Going into yesterday, you would have thought that the Seattle Mariners seemed likely to get their first road sweep of the season. They'd won two games against a Cleveland team that has been decimated by trades and injuries and on Sunday they had Felix Hernandez pitching on the mound.
But that didn't happen. Chone Figgins two-out error in the seventh inning (above), opened up a six-run unearned run floodgate that submarined another one of Felix Hernandez's starts.
“I should have made the play,” Figgins said. “The ball took a hop on me. But I should have made that play.”
Yep, he should have made the play. Errors happen, but Figgins has made more at second base than I've expected this season. I don't know what to think about the switch between him and Jose Lopez. There are some people that believe that the stress of changing positions helped play into both players offensive struggles.
I don't really buy that.
Figgins has had more trouble to adjusting to hitting with Ichiro on base. And once he started struggling early, he picked up bad habits as he tried to hit himself. Meanwhile, Lopez regressed largely because of a flawed approach at the plate, poor discipline and total misunderstanding of the type of hitter he should be.
Following his start, Felix Hernandez sat with his face toward his locker speaking with Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez for about 10 minutes while reporters waited to speak to him. Unfortunately, my four years of high school Spanish and their rapidity at which all three players were speaking didn't allow me to pick up much of the conversation.
But you could tell that Hernandez was clearly irritated with the loss. I'm sure he was frustrated by the Figgins error. I'm sure he was frustrated at himself for leaving pitches up to Asdrubal Cabrera and particularly Travis Hafner after the error as the game spiraled out of control.
Of course, Felix then stood in front of the media and said he wasn't frustrated, and certainly not by the Figgins error.
“Errors are part of the game,” he said. “Anyone who doesn’t make errors in the game is watching from the stands.”
But how could he not be frustrated. He dropped to 8-10 on the season despite lowering his ERA to 2.62, which is fourth in the AL amongst starters - just .05 behind Cliff Lee at 2.57. Hernandez is second in the league in strikeouts, first in innings pitched and fifth in Fielding Independent Pitching, and still has a losing record. And believe me, while you can argue the merits of a win's importance. Hernandez believes they are important.
Want a depressing stat?
In his 10 losses this season, the Mariners have scored a combined 10 runs. And during the innings he was actually pitching in those losses, they've scored a combined seven runs.
Part of Hernandez growing maturity is to be professional about these type of things. But even he has to be wondering what he got himself into by signing the offseason contract extension.