Run Support for the King?  It’s Inconsistent At Best

Feast of Famine for Felix Hernandez

Watching Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez pitch is an absolute joy.  Watching him pitch with some of the run support he has received from his teammates can also be an absolute nightmare.

To say the M’s offense is inconsistent when Felix is on the hill is probably something of an understatement.  Let’s take a look at some numbers.

Prior to Hernandez’s last start on Monday against the Red Sox, the Mariners had scored a grand total of two runs runs in Felix’s last 22.3 innings on the hill.  That’s two runs, in three starts.

This is not a new story, either.

Felix has received a woeful amount of run support throughout his career.  Take a look at his career numbers in quality starts.  FYI, a “quality start” is a start where the pitcher goes six or more innings and allows three or fewer runs.

Felix Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Felix Hernandex.  (Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

Hernandez has 91 career non-win, quality starts.  In those starts, he is 0-31 with 2.24 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, 8.44 K/9, and 0.53 HR/9.

Those numbers are every part of the word “astounding”.

More astounding might be what the Mariners’ offense did in Felix’s most recent start.  By the bottom of the seventh inning, the M’s had batted around in two different innings and put up 12 runs against the Boston Red Sox.

It’s not like the Red Sox were throwing out their version of Brandon Maurer on the hill, either.  We’re talking about a game that John Lackey started.   Lackey was 8-4 with an ERA close to 3.00 before he gave up seven of those 12 runs.

Was it an offensive awakening by the Mariners?  Can we now expect a more consistent performance at the plate by the M’s bats?

I, for one, certainly hope so because the M’s found offense from people we haven’t seen generate much of it until now. Logan Morrison has been awfully fun to tweet with on Twitter, but in the 20 games he played to start the year he wasn’t much fun to watch hit baseballs.  Then he got hurt, went to the DL and only recently returned to the Mariners.

Monday, Morrison turned in his best performance at the dish in his entire career going 4-4 with two homers, a walk and four RBIs. That offensive outburst by Logan raised his .164 batting average to .215 in one night!

As good as Morrison was at the plate, the most impressive single at-bat Monday night likely barely registers in the box score. In the fourth inning, Dustin Ackley stepped into the box against John Lackey and the game was tied 2-2.  Ackley worked a 13-pitch battle with Lackey and eventually drove in a run on an RBI groundout.

It wasn’t sexy, but that AB was an absolute dagger to the heart of Lackey.  It really shows what just one guy can do to a starting pitcher by really grinding out an AB.

Lackey was just out of gas after throwing all those pitches to Ackley.  He wild pitched in a run in his next face off before loading the bases and giving up a three-run triple to Endy Chavez that ended his night.

By then the M’s had a seven runs and that was going to be more than enough to hold up with Felix on the mound. The win put the M’s at 41-36, five games over .500 and well in contention for an AL Wild Card spot.

All they have to do is find a way to keep the bats working consistently.  With their pitching staff, five or six runs a night would easily be more than enough most nights.

Help is on the way too.  Michael Saunders, Corey Hart, and Justin Smoak all had big games in a AAA rehab start in Tacoma that same night.  You have to think they’ll all be back in Seattle sooner rather than later.

Can they put it all together and make this thing work?

I think so.  Time will tell.


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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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