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Felix looks merely human as Mariners get shelled

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Felix Hernandez pitches the worst game of his career OR a pitch-by-pitch analysis of Jesus Sucre's debut as a professional relief pitcher.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

There is just one fact that fully explains how today’s game went for the Mariners: Felix Hernandez and Jesus Sucre both pitched in the same game. That’s not a typo and it wasn’t the result of a massive outburst by the Mariners offense. No, this was very real and was the product of Felix Hernandez’s worst start of his eleven year career.

At least the Astros got it over with quickly. Felix recorded the only out of his brief appearance in this game on a strikeout of Carlos Correa, the sixth batter he had faced. By that point in the game, he had allowed two hits, two walks, and three runs. Some questionable defense behind him and by him had contributed to the early deficit but nothing looked out of sorts. With two on and one out, the end of the inning looked like it was in sight, just a double play away. The very next batter, Luis Valbuena, took a 0-1 changeup over the plate and deposited it in the back of the Astros bullpen in right center field. After another hit and another homer, it was goodnight Felix and goodnight Mariners.

Now for something completely different.

I present to you, Jesus Sucre, professional relief pitcher:

Sucre Pitcher

It can be easy to dwell on all of the negativity following a game like this, but life is short, we need more joy in our lives. Therefore, I now present a pitch-by-pitch analysis of Jesus Sucre’s appearance as a relief pitcher.

Sucre threw seven pitches in this game, four of them for strikes. He averaged 88 mph on his fastball and reached 90 mph on one of them. Sucre’s average velocity is faster than six professional pitchers; Dan Haren, Chris Young, Shaun Marcum, Jered Weaver, and Mark Buehrle. So let’s dive in. Here are Jesus Sucre’s seven pitches, presented to you, the Lookout Landing community.

Pitch 1:

Sucre 1

Type: Fastball
Speed: 85 mph
Result: Ball

Sucre is obviously pretty nervous here as his first pitch sails on him. This is his first appearance as a major league pitcher and as far as I can tell, he hasn’t ever pitched professionally. You have to assume that Sucre needed to adjust to seeing the plate from a completely different perspective. He probably just wanted the ball to travel in the general direction of the plate, forget location or movement or any thing fancy like that.

Pitch 2:

Sucre 2

Type: Changeup
Speed: 84 mph
Result: Called Strike

Now that the first pitch is out of the way, Sucre focused completely on commanding his second pitch and he gets back into the count with a pitch over the heart of the plate. PITCHf/x classified this pitch as a changeup and I’m going to choose to believe that Mike Zunino called for that pitch to keep Marwin Gonzalez off balance. Who would expect a changeup on a 1-0 count from a guy who can gas it up there at 88 mph?!

Pitch 3:

Sucre 3

Type: Fastball
Speed: 88 mph
Result: Ball

Sucre really brings the heat with this pitch. Unfortunately, it’s just off the plate away. Marwin Gonzalez can’t believe he’s actually facing a backup catcher in a real, live Major League Baseball game. He’s a professional, damn it, above crap like this.

Pitch 4:

Sucre 4

Type: Cutter
Speed: 87 mph
Result: In play, no out

Surce broke out his secret weapon in a 2-1 count but left his cutter middle, middle and Marwin Gonzalez hammered the pitch into right field. You have to wonder why Sucre would try throwing a cutter in this situation. Gonzalez has seen two wild fastballs and a grooved changeup so I guess Sucre was trying to catch him off guard. He ended up paying the price.

Pitch 5:

Sucre 5

Type: Cutter
Speed: 88 mph
Result: Ball

Apparently Sucre liked how his cutter felt because he went right back to it. At this point, Sucre had found his groove as his velocity had leveled out and his pitches were finding their way around the plate.

Pitch 6:

Sucre 6

Type: Cutter
Speed: 88 mph
Result: In play, out(s)

Preston Tucker had accumulated exactly 100 plate appearances in the majors prior to this at bat. In his 101st plate appearance, he hit into a ground ball double play off an 88 mph pitch from a backup catcher. We’ve heard so many times that round numbers like this are arbitrary cutoffs in a sport with so many data points. In this instance, something very significant happened to Preston Tucker’s career at this moment: he discovered just how futile the game of baseball can be sometimes.

Pitch 7:

Sucre 7

Type: Fastball
Speed: 90 mph;
Result: In play, out(s)

Jesus Sucre’s final pitch of the night is also the fastest pitch he’s thrown, ever. You have to be impressed with Sucre’s ability to get stronger the deeper he went into his outing. It’s something that we’ve never seen from him before and it could be a turning point in his development. Jake Marisnick, in his infinite mercy, aggressively swung at the first pitch he saw from an unfamiliar opponent and grounded it to short. Despite giving up a leadoff base hit, Jesus Sucre induced two ground ball outs and got out of the inning unscathed.

***

The Mariners will try break this losing streak in Houston tomorrow at 1:00 pm. Mike Montgomery takes the mound for the first time away from Safeco and the Astros counter with Collin McHugh.

Go M’s.