It is fair to say that not much has gone right this season, and Felix Hernandez has epitomized that mantra to varying degrees over the past month -- especially on August 15. On August 15, King Felix completely lost his nobility when he gave up 10 runs in just 2.1 innings.
And in a season where not much has gone right, such as this one, that alone is enough to raise a warranted panic. Is Felix Hernandez injured? What the hell are we going to do without Felix Hernandez? Just the thought was enough to crawl inside of a Mariners-deprived cave and never return.
So it was nice to see Hernandez turn back into King Felix against the A's. And yeah, it was only against the A's, but mowing down an opponent is mowing down an opponent. King Felix, and us, both needed this sort of positive boost. So yeah, this game was nice.
It didn't start out too nice. King Felix basically wasted no time in adding even more fuel into the "oh no oh no oh no what the shit is wrong with him" fire.
Billy Burns' leadoff homer was just the third allowed by Felix Hernandez in his career. #Mariners
— Tim Booth (@ByTimBooth) August 26, 2015
Billy Burns has now hit three home runs on the season. Including all of his minor league stints, he has hit a total of five home runs. Billy Burns also joins Jose Reyes and Ian Kinsler in an exclusive company. One pitch into this lousy game and the wheels had already come off. But then, King Felix must have chugged a bottle of Recovery Water when no one was looking, because he fired off 10 pitches to retire the side. After that, he never looked back.
These sorts of 1-0 Felix Hernandez games are the ones that scare me the most. King Felix could have possibly given up one run on his first pitch and then pitch the equivalent of a no-hitter afterwards and if there was a team that would insist that he would not win that game it would be the Seattle Mariners' offense. They are cruel, demanding, fickle bats that waste no time in disappointing your hopes and dreams and work at a relentless pace to shatter morale. Luckily, today wasn't the case, because the Mariners turned the game into something we could tolerate watching almost immediately in the bottom of the first. The play by play looked like this, and it was such a beautiful sight.
When the dust settled, the Mariners were leading 4-1 and had put together an inning of offense they hadn't quite done yet this season.
First time this season the M’s have batted around (if you define it as 10 hitters coming to the plate)
— Andrew Erickson (@AndrewRErickson) August 26, 2015
But there was still plenty of game left. As our own Andrew Rice ever-so-cruelly pointed out earlier today, games pitched by King Felix have been less than automatic as of late. We haven't been able to cling to the idea that a lead is safe with our ace, and that is a horrible feeling. Luckily, Felix wasn't buying into that logic, and he proved it this afternoon. King Felix only allowed four more batters to do anything but trudge back to the dugout in digust for seven more innings. He finished throwing 73 of his 105 pitches for strikes and looked like the King we have come to expect. He made Billy Butler look like this (multiple times).
The rest of the Mariners weren't done making noise either. Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz hit back to back home runs in the eighth inning. It was nice seeing Cruz add to his major-league leading home run total of 39. But it was more nice to see Seager put a bit of English on the ball with his 18th home run, considering Seager was hitting 7-for-45 since his last home run on August 14. It was also nice seeing Ketel Marte continue his strong play and continued justification for a starting spot in the lineup.
Overall, this was a nice game, which is a description that doesn't make it seem that important and that is because the Mariners aren't really playing in any important games anymore. But it is nice to see nice things, like a hopefully healthy Felix Hernandez and actual, theoretical, bright spots in the lineup. Seeing tidbits like this is nice:
85th career start for King Felix with 8.0+ IP, 2 R or less. Most in @MLB since his debut season in 2005, with 2nd-most being Cliff Lee (71).
— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) August 26, 2015
And most of all, a win is a win -- and that always calls for at least a little bit of celebration.
WE LIKE FUN AND WE LIKE DINGERS BECAUSE DINGERS ARE FUN. pic.twitter.com/68InRiNTlu
— Meg Rowley (@megrowler) August 26, 2015