Those two extra days of rest that Mariners ace Felix Hernandez got by not pitching Wednesday against Texas turned into a bit of history Friday night against Washington at Safeco Field.
Not the good kind.
Hernandez gave up four homers for the first time in his career in a 8-3 loss to the Nationals that dropped the Mariners behind Detroit in the chase for the American League’s final wild-card spot.
A bad night for the King’s Court.
Hernandez had allowed three homers on five occasions over 296 previous starts in his 10-year career. He had yielded just nine this season in 27 previous starts.
The Nats beat him like a tattoo.
Anthony Rendon went deep to center with one out in the first inning.
After the Mariners countered that with two runs in their first against Washington starter Jordan Zimmerman, Hernandez yielded a two-run shot in the third inning to Jayson Werth.
The Nationals pushed their lead to 5-2 when Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos hit solo shots in the fourth innings. And note this: None of the four were cheapies, even by Safeco’s considerable standards.
Hernandez (13-5) was pitching with a week of rest after two subpar starts following his remarkable run of 16 straight starts in which he pitched at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs.
The price of that extra rest was summoning Erasmo Ramirez from Triple-A Tacoma for a spot start, which didn’t go well, either. He gave up 10 runs in three-plus innings Wednesday in a 12-4 loss to Texas.
Hernandez gave up five runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
There was more.
Reliever Joe Beimel surrendered two more Washington homers, to Bryce Harper and Ramos, with two outs in the eighth inning. Fernando Rodney, in a get-work outing, allowed a run in the ninth.
Six homers. The Mariners had not allowed more than three this season in any of their previous 132 games.
The Mariners (72-61) are now 1-3 on their six-game homestand after a three-game sweep last weekend at Boston. They fell one game behind the Tigers (73-60) in the chase for the AL’s final postseason berth.
Zimmerman (10-5) appeared vulnerable at times but worked five shutout innings after that two-run first before handing a three-run lead to Drew Storen in the seventh.
Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano closed out Zimmerman’s victory. Soriano allowed a run in the ninth.
Washington struck first when Rendon crushed a first-pitch, down-the-middle fastball from Hernandez for a one-out homer to center field in the first inning.
The Mariners answered immediately.
Dustin Ackley drove a one-out triple over the head of center fielder Denard Span. After Robinson Cano walked, Kendrys Morales pulled an RBI single through first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Kyle Seager’s drive to deep right hooked just foul from being a three-run homer. He then settled for a infield single to third that scored Cano. Rendon made a nice backhand stop but threw wildly to second.
The Mariners led 2-1.
Zimmerman retired the next two hitters, but it was a 33-pitch inning.
Not much went right after that.
After Rendon worked back from a 1-2 count for a two-out walk in the third inning, Werth clocked a slider for a two-run homer to center. The Nationals led 3-2.
That was notable at the time. Hernandez had not yielded two homers in the same game since July 13, 1013 at Texas (David Murphy and Ian Kinsler in the same inning).
Again, the Mariners threatened an immediate answer.
Cano punched a one-out single to left and went to third on Morales’ single to center. Zimmerman held the lead when Seager and Mike Zunino struck out.
The Nationals extended their lead to 4-2 when Desmond led off the fourth with his 22nd homer. And then to 5-2 when Ramos parked a one-out change-up.
At that point, Hernandez still didn’t have a strikeout. He finished with one.