Mariners beat Rays with bats, gloves, and arms, win 12-5

Otto Greule Jr

Felix is back to being Felix and the Mariners' bats come alive as the Rays let this one go early.

Whoever was worried about Felix Hernandez' performances in his last few starts can be at ease now: Felix is back.

Felix did a whole lot better tonight than the box score might show at first glance. Sure, he gave up four earned runs in 6.2 innings. In reality though, Felix was dominant up until the very last inning when he gave up a bases loaded double to Ryan Hanigan. After that, Tom Wilhelmsen allowed Hanigan to score which is how Felix was charged with the final run.

His start was certainly an interesting one. Home plate umpire Mark Ripperger really wasn't helping Felix and Zunino, even though Zunino was framing pitches magnificently and made nearly every ball Felix threw in the first inning look like a strike (it's such a breath of fresh air to see a catcher back there who knows what he's doing). The stuff was there, the command was there, Felix was there. Somehow, the Rays were getting weak contact on most of the pitches and Felix was unable to record many strikeouts until late in the game when he really got a rhythm going. He totaled seven strikeouts against no walks.

The bats came out early and often in today's game, starting off with a ringing double by the neat, shiny new center fielder James Jones (he plays like his hair's on fire except he actually makes smart decisions instead of being mindlessly aggressive!). Stefen Romero followed that up with a single and an error that allowed him to advance to second, and then came another double by Robinson Cano which was pretty damn close to being a home run:

Sooooooooo close. Alright, cool, whatever. 2-0 is still pretty sweet, even if Cano didn't get that first Safeco Field homer that's been eluding him thusfar. Ok, now we have Corey Hart. He'll get it this time, right?

You've got to be kidding me. How the hell does that happen in consecutive at-bats? Ok, ok. 3-0 is pretty sweet and it's hard to complain about runs being scored. But man, the people who designed Safeco's new dimensions couldn't have made them about three inches closer, could they?

Cesar Ramos would get out of the inning without any further damage until Mike Zunino came up in the top of the second and left nothing in doubt with an opposite-field shot. Afterwards, the Mariners scored four more runs in the second inning with the following sequence:

  1. Brad Miller reaches first on a throwing error by Evan Longoria
  2. James Jones reaches on a fielder's choice, throwing error by Cesar Ramos. Brad Miller to third.
  3. Stefen Romero doubles, scoring Brad Miller. Jones to third.
  4. Robinson Cano out on a sac fly to left field. Jones scores.
  5. Corey Hart walks
  6. Justin Smoak lines out to right field
  7. Kyle Seager singles to right field. Romero scores. Hart to third.
  8. Dustin Ackley reaches on an error by first baseman James Loney. Hart scores. Seager to third.
  9. Mike Zunino walks.
  10. Brad Miller grounds out to first with the bases loaded.
After all of that madness, the Mariners were up 8-0. By the end of the second inning the Rays had four errors, which is worse than the Mariners have ever done before pretty bad. For some reason, Joe Maddon decided to leave Ramos in the game to continue pitching, after which he gave up just one more run on a single to Corey Hart in the third.

Ramos threw for 6.2 total innings. A converted reliever who got completely shelled in the first two innings was left in the game for nearly five more frames. That's crazy. Crazy, but it worked. Ramos became more effective somehow afterwards. His funky 69-mile-per-hour curveball started flying above people's heads and falling in for strikes (all in the same pitch!).

After Ramos left the game, Josh Lueke (boo, hiss!) came into the game and promptly gave up three runs of his own via a Stefen Romero solo shot and a Justin Smoak homer that plated two. I hope the M's have saved some of that offense for tomorrow's game, because they're really going to need it against David Price, one of the best lefties in the game.

The only Mariner starters who did not get a hit in the game tonight were Brad Miller and Dustin Ackley. Make of this what you will, considering the starter was a lefty, but I don't know what else the team is expecting Miller to do right now. His problems aren't going to be solved overnight, and Scott has already talked about how it might be time he packs his bags for Tacoma until he can figure things out. Nick Franklin, Chris Taylor, and even Gabriel Noriega are tearing it up down there and when you have a struggling player at the majors and a flourishing one (or three) in the minors at the same position, I'm not sure what else the M's are waiting for here.

The M's have Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound tomorrow to face off against the aforementioned David Price. That will be a great pitching matchup and the M's should have a good chance to win if Kuma can keep things going and the M's bring the lumber like they did today.

Let's get another winning streak started and vault into first place, yeah?
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