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Felix: Command issues, not ankle, key to loss

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez acknowledged that he twisted his left ankle early in a rough sixth inning in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, but the Mariners' ace insisted that had nothing to do with suffering his first setback of the season.

"No, it wasn't the ankle. It was just me," Hernandez said after walking three batters in the sixth, when Boston scored twice to take the lead. "It was mechanical. My sinker was moving away from the strike zone. … The whole game, I fell behind a lot of times. My command wasn't there."

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SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez acknowledged that he twisted his left ankle early in a rough sixth inning in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, but the Mariners' ace insisted that had nothing to do with suffering his first setback of the season.

"No, it wasn't the ankle. It was just me," Hernandez said after walking three batters in the sixth, when Boston scored twice to take the lead. "It was mechanical. My sinker was moving away from the strike zone. … The whole game, I fell behind a lot of times. My command wasn't there."

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But Hernandez admitted he twisted the same ankle that he'd hurt in his second start of the season in Oakland on April 12, apparently landing wrong on his second pitch of the sixth inning Saturday to Pablo Sandoval. Hernandez didn't miss any time after the initial injury and insisted he won't have any issues going forward this time, either, though the Mariners will check him out Sunday morning.

"We'll reevaluate tomorrow," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I'm sure he's going to be OK though."

McClendon and Mariner trainer Rob Nodine visited Hernandez on the mound during the Sandoval at-bat, but Hernandez remained in the game after a brief conversation. He got Sandoval to ground out, but then walked Xander Bogaerts and Daniel Nava before surrendering the go-ahead double by Blake Swihart.

Another walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. loaded the bases, and Brock Holt pushed across another run with a hard smash that Logan Morrison turned into an out with a diving stop down the first-base line, with Hernandez then ending his 101-pitch night by getting Dustin Pedroia on a grounder.

It was just the eighth time in Hernandez's career that he's walked three batters in the same frame.

"He told me it was OK, but I'm not sure if it didn't affect him a little bit," McClendon said. "He seemed to lose his command after that a little bit. It was a tough inning for him."

Hernandez said solo home runs to Sandoval and David Ortiz didn't bother him, but the walks "were frustrating. That's not me."

Sandoval, who has worked out with Hernandez the past two offseasons in Venezuela, jumped on a fastball up in the zone in the second.

"First-pitch ambush," said Hernandez.

Ortiz has long given Hernandez trouble and has hit .395 with two homers and seven RBIs in 38 at-bats in his career, including his own solo shot in the third.

"He's a good hitter," said Hernandez. "A really good hitter."

But Hernandez has had Boston's number most of his career, as this was his first loss to the Red Sox since 2011 and the first loss to any foe since Sept. 23 of last season in Toronto. He fell to 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA in eight starts this year, missing a chance to become the first Mariners starter to open a season 7-0 since Aaron Sele went a club-record 8-0 in 2001.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.

 

Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez