Mariners' bats, King Felix thrill crowd in win over Indians
Jesus Montero and Eric Thames had home runs in a 5-1 win that gave Seattle its 14th win in the last 15 games at Safeco Field.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Cleveland @ Seattle, 12:40 p.m., ROOT
Felix Hernandez was about to be treated to thunderous applause by a yellow-clad sea of fans as he was pulled two outs into the seventh inning.
But before leaving the mound, where players had gathered as the pitching change was occurring, Hernandez turned and tapped shortstop Brendan Ryan on the head with his glove. On a night when Hernandez's teammates came through for him big in a 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians, Hernandez wanted to pick his shortstop up after a rare error he'd made that inning.
The Mariners didn't make too many other mistakes Tuesday night in securing their seventh consecutive win and 14th in the last 15 games at home. And in many ways, a night that began as a tribute to Hernandez for his perfect game wound up as a salute to a total team effort.
"We had Felix pitching tonight, he's the King and I wanted to help him," Jesus Montero said. "We wanted to help him. And finally, late in the game, we helped him."
It was a three-run homer by Montero, lined to the upper deck in left field off relief pitcher Esmil Rogers in the seventh inning, that capped this one for Hernandez and the Mariners.
The inning began with the score tied 1-1 and the Mariners being outhit 7-1. But John Jaso put the Mariners ahead to stay with a ground-rule double that one-hopped over the wall in left-center before Montero electrified the crowd of 39,204 at Safeco Field by obliterating a 3-1 pitch from Rogers.
"The game was so exciting tonight," Montero said. "We were like 'We want to fight tonight, let's go! We want to win!' And then, we did it together and we won in the end."
Hernandez came back out to pitch the eighth when Ryan made the error on a routine grounder. An ensuing single put two on and then — one out later — Asdrubal Cabrera drove a ball to right field that sent Eric Thames to the base of the wall before he hauled it in.
The crowd exhaled in relief. Mariners manager Eric Wedge opted to pull Hernandez there at 105 pitches rather than risk ruining an otherwise joyous night with Shin-Soo Choo coming up.
"I think that's the best game I've ever pitched in here at Safeco Field," Hernandez said. "In front of these guys, the crowd was unbelievable and they were all yelling 'Felix! Felix! That's something good."
After being treated to a rousing ovation from the pumped up crowd as he walked out from the bullpen pregame.
"I got chills," Hernandez said. "I was like 'Wow, this is unbelievable! This is pretty amazing. This is something special.' "
The Indians had four hits the first three innings, but Hernandez emerged unscathed thanks to a pair of double plays.
His mound counterpart, Roberto Hernandez — formerly known as Fausto Carmona — didn't allow a hit until Thames drilled a pitch well beyond the wall in right-center to put the Mariners on top 1-0 in the fifth.
But the lead wouldn't last as the Indians notched two hits in the seventh, then saw a potential double-play grounder by Casey Kotchman take a bad hop over Ryan's glove for a tying single. Hernandez later sent a pickoff throw to second into center field, allowing lead runner Michael Brantley to take third.
The Indians then tried a squeeze play as Brantley broke for home, but Hernandez's pitch was low and too far outside for Brent Lillibridge to bunt it. Brantley wound up tagged out in a rundown.
"We made some kind of plays out there defensively," Wedge said. "Right down to the last play there by Ackley on Choo's ball. But Felix did a great job of commanding the ballgame."
And Hernandez appreciated it all.
"I'm seeing everything," he said. "I'm seeing offense, defense, pitching. We're playing pretty good right now and we've got to continue to go like that."
|Hot in August|
|Felix Hernandez is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four August starts:|
|8/4 @ NYY||W||9||2||2||2||6|
|8/10 @ LAA||ND||7||5||4||1||3|