Bullpen can't pick up slack on Felix's off night
Mariners ace says he felt fine, but takes second straight loss
SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez says he's healthy. The Mariners ace said he felt great during his start Friday night, in which he endured his second consecutive loss and saw his ERA climb to a season high. He said he made one mistake that could have turned the whole game around in Seattle's 11-4 loss to the White Sox.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, the club's reeling bullpen made more than one mistake and let a game that could have been close get out of hand.
"They struggled," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think it's the same old thing. It's command."
While Hernandez wasn't at his best, giving up four runs on nine hits in six innings, he departed with his team trailing 4-3. If the bullpen had maintained that deficit, Nelson Cruz's homer in the bottom of the ninth inning would have tied the game.
But after Danny Farquhar pitched a scoreless seventh, former Mariners closer Fernando Rodney, who now has a 5.68 ERA, loaded the bases with two hits and a walk in the eighth. Then Rob Rasmussen walked in two runs before surrendering a two-run single to Tyler Saladino, and David Rollins gave up three runs on three hits the rest of the way.
"It's our job to pick each other up," said Rasmussen, who came over from Toronto in the Mark Lowe trade. "It's our job to obviously pick up the starters, but pick ourselves up, too. We're a family and a little bit of a fraternity down there, and we want to pick each other up. Unfortunately tonight I didn't get to do that for Fernando. I really wish I would have."
Hernandez said he wished he could have back the two-out pitch that Carlos Sanchez hit for a two-run double in the sixth. Up until that point, Hernandez had battled, striking out two hitters in a row in the fourth, stranding a runner on third base and limiting the damage to one run in the fifth after the White Sox had three hits in the inning.
With the way White Sox starter Chris Sale was throwing (14 strikeouts to give him a Major League-leading 222), he knew he had to be his regular old ace self.
"He's one of the best lefties out there," Hernandez said. "I knew it was going to be a long night. I can't let happen what I did today."
McClendon, meanwhile, continued to lament another subpar bullpen effort. There have been too many for the Mariners this season, which helps explain the team's 56-66 record.
"Rodney's stuff is good, but … he throws those balls down and in when they should be away, and it just doesn't work," McClendon said. "And Rasmussen really couldn't find the strike zone the way he wanted to.
"His command was off as well. Things just got out of hand."