Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners 6, White Sox 5 (11 innings): Another walk-off winner

Felix Hernandez gave up five runs in 6 2/3 innings in his first start since May 27.
Felix Hernandez gave up five runs in 6 2/3 innings in his first start since May 27. AP

SEATTLE — The first session in the reconvened King’s Court didn’t start well Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field. Felix Hernandez gave up a three-run homer in a testy first inning in his first start since May 27.

It ended in another walk-off victory.

Leonys Martin’s one-out drive in the 11th inning against Dan Jennings lifted the Mariners to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

"I knew it was going to out," Martin crowed. "You just have to trust your power, man. But with two strikes, I was just trying to get on base."

It was Martin’s second homer of the game, his second walk-off homer of the season — and the Mariners’ sixth walk-off homer of the season, which ties a franchise record.

"That’s amazing," Martin said. "It was a great comeback today, and we never gave up. We battled every single pitch."

The victory enabled Mariners to salvage a 3-3 split in their homestand and climb back over .500 at 48-47. Vidal Nuno (1-1) got the victory after pitching a scoreless 11th inning.

Jennings (3-2) was the loser.

The Mariners won the series opener Monday when Adam Lind capped a four-run ninth inning with a three-run homer against White Sox closer David Robertson after managing only one hit against Chris Sale in eight innings.

"Yeah, it is tough," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said, "especially when you’re leading both of the ones that you lose late…you just need to be able to add on.

"Felix, he gave up a few, but their bullpen was great today."

The Mariners trailed 5-2 when Chicago went to its bullpen after Miguel Gonzalez started the seventh inning by walking Lind.

The game turned.

Mike Zunino’s one-out homer against Zach Duke closed the gap to 5-4. The Mariners then loaded the bases with one out, but Duke escaped when Robinson Cano grounded into a double play.

The Mariners pulled even when Lind sliced a two-out homer in the eighth inning against Nate Jones. The drive had just enough carry to clear the left-field wall.

Steve Cishek then worked around a two-on, two-out jam in the Chicago ninth inning by striking out Todd Frazier, who earlier hit a three-run homer against Hernandez in the first inning.

More on that in a moment.

The Mariners nearly won the game in the 10th inning when Kyle Seager grounded a two-out double up the right-field line with Nelson Cruz at first base.

Cruz tried to come all the way around, but Adam Eaton made a strong throw to the plate for the out. That merely delayed the drama for another walk-off homer.

The Mariners have six walk-off victories this season — all via homers.

Now about the King, who was making his first start since May 27. There were no problems with his once-strained right calf muscle. But it wasn’t a smooth start.

Hernandez opened the game by striking out Adam Eaton before giving up a bloop double to Melky Cabrera. After retiring Jose Abreu on a grounder to third, Hernandez jumped ahead 0-2 on Justin Morneau.

Hernandez then missed with four pitches, including a couple of borderline calls. He even began walking toward the dugout at one point and, after missing on a close 3-2 pitch, began barking at umpire Andy Fletcher.

"You know what happened," Hernandez said. "You watched the game. It was a strike."

What happened next is Hernandez floated a cookie change-up over the middle of the plate on his first pitch to Frazier, who rocked a 360-foot drive to left for a three-run homer.

It was Frazier’s 28th homer of the season, which matches Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo for the major-league lead.

The White Sox added another run in the second on three successive two-out singles, but Martin pulled two back later in the inning with his first home run. Cabrera’s leadoff triple in the fifth inning led to Chicago’s final run.

Hernandez exited after the White Sox put runners at first and second with two outs in the seventh. When Tom Wilhelmsen closed out the inning, Hernandez’s line showed five runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

It’s a start.

"It feels good," Hernandez said. "I had no problems at all. I didn’t feel anything with my leg. I’m good to roll."

So was Martin.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Felix Hernandez believed he’d completed a scoreless first inning by striking out Justin Morneau with Melky Cabrera at second base.

But Hernandez failed to get a couple of borderline calls from umpire Andy Fletcher. After Morneau walked, Todd Frazier hit a three-run homer. That quickly, the Mariners were in a 3-0 hole.

Asked whether the failure to get the call on Morneau affected his pitch to Frazier, Hernandez said: "Definitely. Sure."

PLUS: Rookie reliever Edwin Diaz struck out the side in a one-two-three eighth inning and now has 42 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings in his first 20 big-league appearances…closer Steve Cishek pitched two scoreless innings after replacing Diaz to start the ninth…lefty Vidal Nuno had two strikeouts in a one-two-three 11th inning.

MINUS: Robinson Cano grounded into a soft double play when the Mariners trailed by one run with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning…the Mariners mustered only three opportunities with runners in scoring position. They were 0-for-3.

STAT PACK: The Mariners six walk-off homers this season match the franchise record set in 1986.

QUOTABLE: Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer Wednesday after being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma. He hit two homers in his first start after his previous recall.

So do the Mariners need to keep sending him down to get a recall bounce?

"I hope not," Zunino said. "I hope I can do that at other times, too. It’s just a funny coincidence."

SHORT HOPS: Adam Lind tied the game with a homer in the eighth inning. It was his third tying or go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later, which leads the majors…Kyle Seager leads the majors with 10 doubles since June 28…reliever Edwin Diaz has two or more strikeouts in 14 of his 20 appearances…the Mariners are 6-5 in extra-inning games and 16-18 in one-run games.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners