Felix Hernandez lasted only four innings Wednesday afternoon in a 14-1 blowout loss to Texas that, for the Mariners, concluded what might be a season-killing road trip.
“It wasn’t good,” Hernandez admitted. “I was terrible. I made a lot of mistakes. I walked a lot of people. And I left one pitch out over the plate, and (Carlos) Gomez hit a homer.”
Welcome to September.
The Mariners concluded August by losing five in a row and eight of their last nine. They are back to three games over .500 at 68-65 and their postseason prospects are growing dimmer.
They staggered in the 1-6 trip through Chicago and Texas — in which their victory came against White Sox ace Chris Sale. They rallied Tuesday from a four-run deficit against Texas ace Cole Hamels before suffering a walk-off loss. The trip began with a walk-off loss in Chicago, when the Mariners blew a late three-run lead. Who knew then it was a harbinger of an all-phase collapse?
“It was a rough trip,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “No doubt. Very disappointing. We knew it was going to be a challenging trip for us with the pitching we were up against.
“We got a couple of decent starts on this trip. Not a ton. There were a couple of games where it would have been nice to hang on at the end, but it didn’t happen.”
So where are we?
The Mariners started Wednesday trailing Baltimore by four games in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. More telling, perhaps, there were four other clubs between them and the Orioles.
The Mariners have 29 games remaining.
Hernandez (9-5) gave up six runs before exiting, including five runs in a 41-pitch fourth inning that Gomez punctuated with a grand slam. Hernandez issued three walks in that inning.
“We made him work,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Looked for some pitches out over the plate and didn’t miss. This is a guy who likes to work on the edges and mix. He’s very good at it.
“Our guys were patient enough to drive the ball through the middle of the field.”
It was, easily, the King’s worst outing in nine starts since returning from a 43-day stay on the disabled list.
“They have a pretty good offense and a pretty good team,” Hernandez said. “But if I have my pitches, if I’ve got everything working, I think I can get those guys out. They had our number for the last three days.”
There was more, of course.
The Mariners’ attack, as has happened too often, turtled when confronted by a left-handed starter. It was Martin Perez (9-10) in this case. He worked six shutout innings before the Rangers turned to their bullpen.
As for the Mariners’ bullpen:
▪ Reliever Vidal Nuno endured another rough outing after replacing Hernandez to start the fifth inning. Carlos Beltran led off with a single, and Adrian Beltre followed with a mortar-shot homer to left.
▪ Reliever Arquimedes Caminero gave up a two-run homer in the seventh inning to Rougned Odor, whose two-run walk-off homer Tuesday against Edwin Diaz sent the Mariners to a crushing 8-7 loss.
Caminero hit Elvis Andrus later in the seventh with a 98-mph fastball, which prompted an ejection from umpire Todd Tichenor, who apparently saw the pitch as a retaliation for Andrus’ earlier bump on first baseman Dae-Ho Lee.
▪ Reliever Pat Venditte gave up four more runs in the eighth inning. All with two outs. Ryan Rua hit a homer and, after a walk and a single, Odor hit his second homer of the game.
It was, pretty much, a fiasco, that enabled the Rangers to complete a three-game sweep. The Mariners have lost six straight at Globe Life Park and are 4-11 this season against first-place Texas.
The Mariners avoided a shutout on Kyle Seager’s one-out homer in the eighth inning against Tony Barnette. They did have other chances, but they were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners.
Texas led 1-0 when it blew the game open with a five-run fourth inning. Beltran led off with a single before walks to Beltre and Mitch Moreland loaded the bases with one out.
Andrus’ single to left produced one run before Gomez unloaded a 405-foot drive to left for the slam and a 6-0 lead. At that point, it was time to reach for the salt and lime.
PLAY OF THE GAME: It was a rough defensive second inning for first baseman Lee. First, he nearly flipped over the wall in foul ground, at full speed, while chasing a pop-up by Beltre.
Lee then got knocked to the ground by Elvis Andrus on an inning-ending play at first base. Andrus hit a grounder to second and slammed into Lee, and knocked him to the ground, as he crossed the base.
“I have no idea,” Lee said. “I don’t understand what happened. I don’t think it was intentional, but I have no clue why he did. He said he was sorry. I wasn’t happy, but he said he was sorry.”
The Mariners didn’t appear to be as forgiving.
Hernandez buzzed Andrus with an up-and-in pitch in the fourth inning before Caminero hit him the seventh.
PLUS: Lee had three of the Mariners’ eight hits.
MINUS: The 13-run margin was the Mariners’ worst loss of the season. Their previous low point was an 11-run deficit on July 29 in a 12-1 loss to the Cubs in Chicago.