It's amazing how often we get the opportunity to watch a stellar pitcher like Felix. I mean, he really is something. It seems like pitchers are always so volatile and so injury-prone and while this is something we constantly discuss, it's especially important to remember after a game like today. For us as Mariners fans, this performance comes as a surprise.
There are fans of teams out there who have seen their aces plummet to mediocrity (Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, CC Sabathia) or struggle to be consistent enough on the field to have sustained success (Ubaldo Jimenez, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Julio Teheran) or off the field due to injuries (Erik Bedard, Brandon Webb, Mark Prior, too many to name). Felix has had none of that. He's been consistent, healthy, and hasn't fallen off a cliff even as his career innings totals continue to rise. It's a blessing to have a player like him on our favorite baseball team. You can count the number of pitchers you can say that about in today's game on just one hand.
That being said, even he can be vulnerable. Even Felix is capable of putting up a real stinker. Giving up seven earned runs in 4.2 innings? Yeah, that's pretty bad. But it isn't indicative of anything. Felix is still Felix and still will be Felix and hell, before that whole fiasco with the mud getting stuck in his cleats, he was pretty damn good! He's gonna throw another perfect game, I thought to myself after those first three frames. That's how sharp he looked as he retired the side in the first three innings, needing only 21 pitches to do it. I could feel the energy at Safeco Field even from my own living room. He had his command, his sharpness, his swagger, his competitiveness, he was brilliant.
Then, everything changed. Felix allowed two straight singles to start the fourth. A wild pitch allowed the speedy Brett Gardner to scamper over home plate to score the first run for the Yankees. Two walks later and the bases were loaded. The Mariners would escape the inning allowing just one more run on a double play, entering the home half of the fourth down 2-0.
The M's wouldn't threaten much in the fourth inning and the Yankees started off the fifth inning by loading the bases with nobody out. Chase Headley flied one into the outfield to give the Bombers a 3-0 lead on the sacrifice fly, and an Arod single later allowed the bases to be juiced once again as Mark Teixeira stepped up to the plate. With one swing, he was able to toast Felix for all of the baserunners he allowed.
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Felix would leave the game shortly after, and Mayckol Guaipe came onto the mound to make his major league debut. Guaipe did a brilliant job of keeping the lead from growing any further, throwing 2.1 perfect innings and striking out two. Dominic Leone came on after that to throw the final two innings, allowing just one hit. It's a shame that one of them is likely to go back down to Tacoma after tonight given that Mike Montgomery needs a spot on the roster.
The M's would threaten a little in the seventh when Logan Morrison scored from first on a Seth Smith triple, who later plated on an Austin Jackson double. A Brad Miller walk later and the Mariners were down 7-2 with runners on first and second and nobody out. Mike Zunino and Rickie Weeks quickly defused the threat and the M's would never score again as they were shut out by the Yankee bullpen.
All in all, it was a pretty shitty game. Felix made fans scream into their pillows and the M's collected eight hits, scoring just two runs while the Yankees collected seven hits and scored seven runs. This may be a bit of an annoying trend but it is a god sign to see the Mariner bats put up eight hits against a terrific starting pitcher and a solid bullpen. Tomorrow, the Mariners will face a struggling Sabathia and after that a newly-healthy Masahiro Tanaka who will be far from 100% given that it is his first start back from injury.
A winning home stand is still within grasp, so keep your head up and as always, go M's.