SEATTLE – When even Felix Hernandez, the Mariners’ designated savior, can’t bail them out of a tailspin, the team is truly in trouble.
On Monday night at Safeco, Felix Hernandez was finally handed a one-run lead in the fifth inning of a back-and-forth game – and promptly gave up four two-out runs in the top of the sixth that led to another Mariners loss.
This time, it was Toronto prevailing, 11-4. The Mariners have now lost all four games on this homestand, each a blowout, each defeat pushing them ever closer to “seller” status as Friday’s trade deadline approaches.
The Mariners have been outscored 42-10 in those four losses.
Jarrod Washburn, scheduled to take the mound tonight, is the likeliest trade chip. The Mariners on Monday were still hoping to chip away at the Angels’ lead before Friday, but instead fell 7½ games behind wild-card leader Boston.
Toronto handed Hernandez’s his biggest drumming of the season. The Blue Jays touched him for 11 hits and seven runs in 52/3 innings to snap Hernandez’s seven-game winning streak. He hadn’t lost since May 19, when manager Don Wakamatsu called him out after a 6-5 loss to the Angels. Since then, Hernandez had gone 7-0 with a 1.30 earned-run average in 11 starts.
Hernandez had also proven himself to be a losing-streak smasher, going 10-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 13 starts after a Mariners loss before Monday night.
The seven runs allowed by Hernandez were a season high, and the 11 hits matched a season high. He gave up two home runs for just the third time, falling to 11-4 on the season. Hernandez’s ERA rose from 2.45, second in the American League, to 2.79.
The Mariners took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Rookie Michael Saunders led off with a perfect bunt down the third-base line for a single, moved to second on Ichiro Suzuki’s one-out single, and scored on a base hit by Franklin Gutierrez.
Chris Shelton banged a clutch two-out single to left to score Ichiro and put the Mariners up 4-3.
But instead of clamping down on the Jays, Hernandez led them blast back into the lead to stay. And it all happened after he got two quick outs in the top of the sixth. That was followed by a single, a walk, and then four consecutive singles that led to four Toronto runs. At that point, Wakamatsu pulled Hernandez, ensuring his shortest stint since that May 19 game against the Angels, also 5 2/3 innings.
Marco Scutaro led the offense for the Jays with four hits, while Centralia’s Lyle Overbay had a solo homer in the second, and Rod Barajas led off the fifth with a homer off Hernandez. Barajas went 3 for 4, while Scott Rolen drove in three runs.
The Jays blew it wide open with four runs off Sean White in the seventh and eighth, one of them unearned on Gutierrez’s three-base error.
The Mariners lost a chance for a big inning in the fourth when Toronto third baseman Rolen, with two runners on and a Seattle run already in, made a leaping grab of Chris Woodward’s scorching liner. He doubled Jack Hannahan off second to end the inning.
Shelton went 2 for 3 with two RBI, while Ichiro had three hits for the Mariners and took over the American League batting lead from Joe Mauer.
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