With your ace is on the mound in front of a packed Wrigley Field in Chicago against a strong Cubs team, you know you have to come out strong seeking a series win. The Mariners certainly came out strong in their first Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN appearance since the year 2004, as they smacked three 2-run homers in the first 3 innings of the game. As the game went on, however, the now 63-41 Chicago Cubs creeped their way back into the game, slowly putting runs up on the board. RHP Felix Hernandez started off sharp for Seattle, and his command was certainly there. Unfortunately, from the ninth inning and into extras, the Cubs had taken full control, beating the Mariners 7-6 after 12 innings. With the loss, the M's have fallen to only a game above .500 with a W-L record of 52-51 on the season so far. Seattle is now 8.5 games behind the 62-44 Texas Rangers, who have won 4 straight and are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and 2.5 games behind the 55-49 Houston Astros in the American League Western division standings. For a wild card spot, the M's need to climb a 5.0 game ladder, but only trail the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers in the race for that second wild card spot.
On the mound on Sunday night at Wrigley Field, RHP Felix Hernandez made his thirteenth start of the 2016 season. In his last 2 starts (7/26 at PIT, and 7/20 vs CHW) Felix pitched well, but his command and sharpness were not there at the beginnings of his outings. On Sunday night, that was a different story, however, as Hernandez looked good through 5.0 innings of work. Despite giving up 5 walks, which would lead to giving up 2 runs (all earned) on Felix's part, he struck out 8 Cubs and gave up only 2 hits in his outing. He was pulled prior to the sixth inning main because of pitch count, as he was already at 103 pitches at the time. Felix's outing was a no decision, so he maintains a W-L record of 5-4 on the season. His ERA is now a 3.46. In relief of Hernandez were RHP Drew Storen (6.81 ERA), RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (8.04 ERA), RHP Edwin Diaz (1.80 ERA), RHP closer Steve Cishek (3.26 ERA) and RHP Cody Martin (2.84 ERA). Storen tossed the sixth inning and threw a blank line. Tom Wilhelmsen gave up a run on 1 hit (earned) while walking 1 and striking out 1 in 0.2 innings of work. Edwin Diaz was dominant AGAIN, as he struck out 3 Cubs giving up only 2 hits in 1.1 innings of work. Diaz earned his 13th hold of the season. RHP closer came into the ball game in the ninth inning, looking to close out the win for Seattle, and secure a series win against the Cubs. Unfortunately, he didn't get things done for the 6th time this season (6th blown save) as he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits (all earned) while striking out 1 for the only out he'd get in the ninth inning before the Cubs tied things on a very wild pitch. Cody Martin, called up on Friday from AAA Tacoma went in extra innings for Seattle looking to keep them alive. In 2.1 innings of work, Martin gave up only 1 hit, but also 1 run (earned) giving the Cubs the victory. CHC LHP Jon Lester, who was pinch hitting with a runner on third for the Cubs and 1 out in the twelfth inning, connected for a walk-off bunt that the M's couldn't field in time, as CHC Heyward scored from third base, ending the ball game. The game ended at 9:35 PM PAC, 12:35 AM ET on Sunday night.
Offensively on the night for Seattle, they came out swinging the bats in front of the national television audience. Offense combined for 6 runs on 11 hits off of Cubs pitching. Seattle connected for a 2-run home run in the first three innings of the ball game off of CHC LHP Brian Matusz. RF Nelson Cruz (.288 AVG) went 2-for-5 on the night with 2 hits and 2 RBI. Cruz connected for the first of the three 2-run blasts in the first inning off of Matusz. Cruz now has 26 homers on the season, which leads the team, and he also leads the team with 68 RBI. 2B Robinson Canó (.298 AVG) connected for the second of the 2-run homers in the second inning, off of Matusz. Robbie went 1-for-6 on the day with the homer, and he now has a total of 23 homers on the season, with 65 RBI. The third of the 2-run homers came from 1B Dae-Ho Lee (.263 AVG) in the third inning of the ball game, also off of Matusz. Dae-Ho went 1-for-3 on the night and connected for his 13th homer of the season, and the 2 RBI now gives him 39 on the season. C Mike Zunino (.241 AVG) also contributed offensively for Seattle with a 2-for-5 day at the plate. Zunino connected for 2 doubles, and he now has 3 on the season for the M's. SS Shawn O'Malley (.235 AVG) went 1-for-6 at the plate with a base hit. 3B Kyle Seager (.284 AVG) went 2-for-5 on the night with a pair of hits. CF Leonys Martin (.249 AVG) and LF-RF Franklin Gutierrez (.243 AVG) each had a hit in this one as well for Seattle.
WHAT'S NEXT? :
The Mariners will now look to keep their record above .500 as they begin what will be a 10-game home stand at Safeco Field in Seattle, all starting on Monday night. The Mariners will welcome in the Boston Red Sox, a third place team in the American League East at 57-46 on the season. LHP James Paxton (3-5, 4.27 ERA) and the M's will face BOS LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.51 ERA). Be sure to catch Paxton's 11th start of the season on ROOT Sports NW for watching, or listen in on 710 ESPN Seattle radio! First pitch start time- 7:10 PM PAC, 10:10 PM ET.
MARINERS 365 NOTES:
The Mariners have traded LHP Wade Miley to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for LHP Ariel Miranda.
The Mariners are nearing a deal in acquiring SS Zack Cozart from the Cincinnati Reds. Be sure to follow @Mariners365 on twitter for updates on the #TradeDeadline.
This is Tom Hayden signing off saying Go Mariners! Stay #TrueToTheBlue.