SEATTLE -- On a day the Mariners first lost left-hander Drew Smylyfor the rest of the season and then blew a ninth-inning lead in a 5-4 loss to the Phillies, there were signs of encouragement from an important corner of the clubhouse.Felix Hernandez, the long-time Mariners leader, rallied from a
SEATTLE -- On a day the Mariners first lost left-hander Drew Smylyfor the rest of the season and then blew a ninth-inning lead in a 5-4 loss to the Phillies, there were signs of encouragement from an important corner of the clubhouse.
Felix Hernandez, the long-time Mariners leader, rallied from a rough third inning to throw his second straight quality start since rejoining Seattle's rotation and was in line for a second straight win until the final-inning collapse by closer Edwin Diaz.
So while as much as this one hurt, with back-to-back losses to the Phillies leaving Seattle at 39-41 as it heads toward the final game of the first half, the big picture requires a healthy Hernandez anchoring the rotation after missing two months with bursitis in his shoulder.
"Felix got better as the game went along," said manager Scott Servais. "He struggled a bit in the third and gave up the home run, then got out of it with the bases-loaded double play. But I thought he re-gathered and got us deep, giving us six innings with three runs. Pretty good effort by him."
The 13-year veteran said he left a changeup over the plate on a terrible pitch that Ty Kelly hammered for a two-run homer, but otherwise felt strong once he found his curveball over the final three frames.
"The first three innings I didn't have any rhythm going," Hernandez said. "I wasn't good. I tried to [be ready] with the early game. The thing that woke me up was the homer. After that, I was more aggressive and pounding the strike zone a little better."
News that Smyly won't be able to pitch at all this year after discovering he'll need Tommy John surgery reverberated through the clubhouse, but Hernandez said the rest of the rotation just needs to keep doing its own thing.
"It's tough," Hernandez said. "It's tough for him. It's bad news for him. We just have to go out and compete against anybody. It's no pressure at all. We just have to do our job."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [