The Mariners limp into Fenway Park today in the midst of 12-game losing streak. It's a tie for the second longest losing streak in club history. The longest is 14-straight losses way back in 1992.
Remember when they took 2 of 3 from the Red Sox back in April? That seems like a 1,000 years ago.
Tonight might be the most opportune time to snap this streak with reigning AL Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez making the start against Boston right-hander John Lackey.
Hernandez has had an up and down season with a 8-8 record and a 3.26 ERA this season. He's still among the league leaders strikeouts and innings pitched. Beyond that, Felix loves to pitch in Fenway Park. In six careers starts, he has a 3-0 record with a 1.49 ERA. Earlier this season, he threw seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits with a walk in 10 strikeouts.
There is something about a packed Fenway that brings the best out in him. He's always said he likes pitching here.
So the Mariners have that going for them, which is nice.
It does help that the Red Sox are starting John Lackey tonight as well. The big right-hander has been basically a disappointment since the team signed him to a 5-year $82.5 million contract before last season. In a little over 1 and a 1/2 seasons in Boston, he's made 48 starts and posted a 21-19 record with a 5.05 ERA.
This year Lackey is 7-8 with a 6.70 ERA. He has won his last two starts, but that is kind of deceiving as to whether he is pitching well. Lackey gave up 10 hits and last just 5 2/3 innings but his teammates scored nine runs against Tampa Bay to get the win.
And therein lies the problem for Felix tonight. He will be facing the Red Sox loaded lineup. Meanwhile, the Mariners will roll out their usual lineup that has made pitchers with stuff far worse than Lackey look like Cy Young award winners.
Usually, the job of stopping a losing streak falls on the staff ace's shoulders. The staff ace is supposed to stop the bleeding. Although the Mariners are gushing losses and a band-aid isn't going to work.
But this is what is expected of Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver and of Felix. It's an unenviable task because he's likely to get about two runs of supports while trying to navigate his way through that dangerous Red Sox lineup. But if you ask, he would also say it's his responsibility as the leader of the staff. He wants that responsibility.
Last year, he was just 5-9 in starts after a Mariners' loss. This year he is 5-6. But he has been that losing streak stopper before in his career. In 2009, 23 of his 34 starts followed losses. And he went 15-4 in those starts with a 2.46 ERA (44 ER, 161.0 IP) in those games.
Realistically, if Felix can't stop it tonight, there's a good chance the Mariners could tie the franchise record for consecutive losses because they will have rookie Blake Beavan facing Josh Beckett tomorrow.
- 51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
- 26 Brendan Ryan SS
- 13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
- 30 Miguel Olivo C
- 4 Adam Kennedy (L) 3B
- 17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
- 20 Mike Carp (L) LF
- 29 Jack Cust (L) DH
- 56 Greg Halman CF
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
Red Sox (59-37)
- 2 Jacoby Ellsbury (L) CF
- 15 Dustin Pedroia 2B
- 28 Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
- 20 Kevin Youkilis 3B
- 34 David Ortiz (L) DH
- 13 Carl Crawford (L) LF
- 16 Josh Reddick (L) RF
- 39 Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
- 10 Marco Scutaro SS
41 John Lackey RHP