Mariners blow 5-0 lead with Felix on mound
Mike Trout drove in the first five runs for the Angels, all off Felix Hernandez, to start Seattle toward a stunning 6-5 loss Friday night.
Seattle Times staff reporter
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Felix Hernandez did what a staff ace is supposed to do after a young team blows a seemingly insurmountable lead and loses.
Hernandez stood by his locker Friday night and wore this 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on his ever-broadening shoulders. He did it even though his fellow Mariners fielders, hitters and base runners had spent the better part of the final seven innings doing all they could to help Hernandez squander a five-run lead.
It seemed almost fitting that the game ended with relief pitcher Josh Kinney bouncing an attempted slider in the dirt to bring the decisive run scampering home from third. The Mariners fell to 1-6 on a trip where their only victory was a two-hitter last weekend by Hernandez.
"That was not my best game tonight," Hernandez said. "I fell behind, made a couple of mistakes and that was the game right there. They gave me an early lead, I couldn't hold it. So it's all on me."
Not so fast.
While it's tempting to say that a guy like Hernandez should be able to hold a 5-0 lead in the third inning, the Mariners were up by that much because Angels torch-lighter Ervin Santana threw two gopher balls to Dustin Ackley and John Jaso in the top of the third.
Ackley's blast was good for a two-run homer, Jaso's a three-run shot. Santana has now given up a career-high 28 home runs this season, taking over the league lead from Seattle starter Jason Vargas.
But the Angels have a hitting antidote to Santana in the form of 21-year-old rookie Mike Trout. And with his team headed to near-certain defeat — with Hernandez having been 42-1 in games where he's spotted at least a four-run lead — Trout took over.
He hit a three-run homer off Hernandez in the fifth inning — after a Brendan Ryan error — to make it 5-3 and wake up the crowd of 39,016 at Angel Stadium. Then, in the fifth, Trout collected his fourth and fifth runs batted in on the same fly-ball out.
The Angels had loaded the bases with none out when Trout sent Eric Thames sprinting into the right-field corner after a fly ball. Thames made a one-handed catch — with Howie Kendrick easily tagging up and scoring from third — but then missed the cutoff man with his throw and had the ball short-hop Ryan.
Speedy Angels base runner Erick Aybar had also been waved home all the way from second on the play. The official scorer later ruled that Aybar scored on his own and not because of the Thames' throwing error — which also allowed a runner to move from first to second.
Hernandez had been screaming at his fielders that the Angels were waving Aybar home from second. He punched the air in anger when the Thames throw bounced around and the second run scored.
Asked about the play after the game, Hernandez said: "Some weird things happened tonight."
Thames said he was trying to throw to second base to keep the runner at first base from advancing into scoring position.
"We can't just throw the ball home and then he goes to second," Thames said.
But Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Thames had to hit the cutoff man so the Mariners could "control the baseball" and limit all the runners to just one base gained on tag-ups. Instead, Thames missed the cutoff man and Aybar scored.
"Like I told the guys after the game," Wedge said, "when we win ballgames and we're a good ballclub, everybody's doing it in their area. We're a very complete ball team when we're a good ball team. And that's offense, that's infield-outfield, that's starting pitching and that's the bullpen."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org