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August 29, 2013

What You Need to Know

An Ugly Outing for Felix

by Daniel Rathman


The Wednesday Takeaway
Even the best pitchers get shelled from time to time, and Felix Hernandez is no exception. The Mariners ace recorded only nine outs in yesterday afternoon’s meeting with the Rangers, who stranded two runners in the first inning and then unleashed a merciless coup that bumped King Felix off his throne.

Hernandez came within one out of leaving two more Texas runners on base in the second inning, but Leonys Martin would have none of that. The center fielder worked the count to 2-1, putting Hernandez into a fastball situation with two on and two away. The right-hander aimed for the outside corner, but his 89-mph sinker stayed elevated over the outer third, leaving him watching helplessly as Martin walloped the offering over the fence in the left-center field gap. Hernandez’s pitch was a mistake, but Martin—who was homer-less to that point in August—deserves a good deal of credit for capitalizing on it.

The Rangers added another pair of runs in the third inning on two singles, a walk, and two stolen bases—plus a throwing error by catcher Henry Blanco—and they were only getting started. With five runs already on his line, Hernandez came out for the fourth inning and faced four batters. All of them reached base, on two singles and two doubles, and all of them eventually scored, the fourth on a two-run shot by Adrian Beltre off of long reliever Brandon Maurer.

That closed the book on Hernandez with the following line: 3+ IP, 11 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 78 pitches (44 strikes).

It marked just the third time in Hernandez’s career that he failed to notch a fourth-inning out, and one of the other two abbreviated outings was halted by elbow soreness in the opening frame. It also marked the first time that Hernandez had ever left a major-league game with eight or more earned runs on his line—though he had, on 10 previous occasions, permitted seven.

It was not, however, the first time that the Rangers—who ultimately won 12-4 and improved to 19-6 in August—had gotten the better of Hernandez this year. They collected four runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings in a win on April 11, five runs on 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings in a win on May 25, and—after Hernandez avenged those defeats with seven frames of two-run ball on July 3—five runs on five hits in as many innings on August 17. Add today’s drubbing, and the Rangers’ collective triple-slash line with Hernandez on the mound this year looks like this: .364/.417/.570. That .987 OPS would rank fourth among qualifying big leaguers, wedged between Mike Trout and David Ortiz.

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Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (08/29)
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