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Felix dominates and the M's prove that two solo home runs are better than one

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King Felix outduels Jon Lester as M's beat A's 2-1.

Happy Felix.
Happy Felix.
Ezra Shaw

During the first three minutes of today's telecast, Blowers and Sims probably uttered the words "pitcher's duel" fifty or sixty times. This is a phrase that has always bothered me a little bit; duels are conducted between two individuals whereas the game of baseball pits two teams against one another. The pitchers never directly face each other (in the AL, at least), so it's silly to refer to this as a duel. But maybe I'm just being too literal. In any case, today's game did ultimately shape up to be a fairly quintessential pitcher's "duel".

First and foremost, Felix Hernandez got back to being King Felix. After scuffling a bit over his last few starts, he rebounded this afternoon to scatter just five baserunners over eight innings. He located his pitches well and stayed ahead in the count all afternoon. But, despite his outstanding performance, this didn't feel like a particularly dominating outing. Felix recorded only seven swings-and-misses (tied for the lowest all season) and recorded just four strikeouts. It's possible that pitching to contact was a big part of Felix's game plan today; allowing the A's to get themselves out did work very well for Paxton yesterday. In any case, I'm more than happy with the results of today's game.

Lester also lived up to his billing as a top-tier pitcher, giving up just two runs over eight innings. However, the Mariners actually hit Lester a bit harder than the final score might suggest. Although they only collected seven hits against him, five of them went for extra bases (two home runs and three doubles); that's the most XBH they've had in a game since they beat the Blue Jays on August 11th. Unfortunately/unluckily, all of the Mariners hits today came when no one was on base. Thanks to jacks by Kyle Seager and Corey Hart, this didn't end up costing them today, but if the Mariners are going to continue to contend for the playoffs, they can't afford to put up many more games where they go 0-fer with RISP.

  • In the top of the fourth inning, Seager hit a flare to shallow left field that just missed being caught by a diving Brandon Moss. As the ball tipped off of Moss's glove and trickled behind him, Seager tried to stretch his double into a triple. Unfortunately, the ball only got about 15-20 feet away from Moss and he was able to recover in time to fire the ball to third base and get Seager. There was one out in the inning when Seager came up to bat, so making the second out at third base wasn't the most egregious turn of events, but this was Seager's eleventh TOOTBLAN all season. He leads the Mariners in this category (Brad Miller is next with eight) and only six players in all of baseball have been throw out on the basepaths more often than Seager this year. Seager is an absolutely phenomenal player, but he hasn't always made the best baserunning decisions this season.
  • The only damage allowed by Felix today was a solo home run to Adam Dunn in the fourth inning. Felix threw a middle-in fastball on a full count that Dunn hit for a moonshot down into the right field seats.

    Dunnhr

    Blowers immediately suggested that this wasn't a mistake by Felix and that Dunn is just ridiculously strong. It did appear that Felix hit his spot and located the pitch just about where Zunino was set up. However, looking at the slugging heatmap for Dunn...

    Dunn_slugging_heatmap

    This seems like a questionable spot in which to intentionally throw Dunn a fastball. I understand trying to challenge a hitter, but choosing to locate a 3-2 pitch in that spot seems a bit imprudent.
  • At the end of the broadcast, Dave Sims noted that this was the first time that the Athletics had lost back-to-back home games since May 6th and 7th. What the Mariners just did was not easy. Try and appreciate that. Hopefully the M's can keep it together for another few weeks and successfully navigate their way into the playoffs. Baseball!

  • Seagerharthighfive