Finding ways to lose is a cliche, but in this case, it doesn't seem like one. The Indians started out this stretch of awfulness with losing the same way: bad starting pitching, no offense. Now, even when they do get good pitching, they're losing in other ways. And no, the variety is not amusing.
Safeco Field was a near-sellout as Mariners fans showed up to see what Felix Hernandez would do after his perfect game. Usually only the fans down the left field corner where yellow shirts and hold up K signs, but last night, everyone in the stadium did. Now that I think about it, the near sell-out probably had a lot to do with a free t-shirt giveaway as well. Great pitchers make any team a great team when they take the mound, especially great pitchers who are especially hot.
For those who came to the park expecting a repeat performance, their hopes were dashed when Jason Kipnis singled past first baseball Jason Smoak to end the perfect streak at 9 innings. The fans gave Hernandez a standing ovation after the hit, as if the hit had spoiled a potential perfect game. The Indians would get seven hits and a walk off Hernandez, which by his recent standards is a below-average game.
Up until the seventh inning, Felix Hernandez was not the best pitcher in this game, or even the best Hernandez pitcher in the game. Roberto Hernandez was making his second start of the season; his first one was undermined by bad defense, and this one would be undermined by bad relief pitching. He held the Mariners hitless until two outs in the bottom of the fifth, when he left a pitch up to former Blue Jay Eric Thames, and the Seattle outfielder hit the ball out into the right field seats to end both the no-hit bid and the shutout.
Hernandez would retire Justin Smoak to end the inning, and then retire the Mariners in order in the sixth. So to that point, his line looked excellent: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SO. It was a vintage Hernandez (or should I say Carmona) start, with lots of weak grounders and popups, and it seemed like we'd have a pitcher's duel for the first time in quite a while.
Then the Indians managed to score a run off Felix Hernandez in the top of the seventh. Three consecutive singles (including a Casey Kotchman single that should have been a double play) with one out tied the game, and Michael Brantley then went to third when Felix Hernandez tried to pick him off at second. Manny Acta gambled a squeeze play with Brent Lillibridge at the plate, but the pitch was too far outside for Lillibridge to bunt, and Brantley was an easy out. That defused the inning, but the game was tied, and Roberto Hernandez was pitching very well.
That all changed in the seventh. A walk, a single, and ground rule double gave the Mariners the lead, and two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Acta pulled Hernandez, and brought in Esmil Rogers to try to keep the deficit at one run. But Rogers not only allowed the two runners on base to score, he allowed his own run; the first batter he faced - Jesus Montero - homered over the wall in left (the wall that will probably be moved in this winter), and now the Indians trailed 5-1.
It does get repetitive talking about how terrible the Indians are playing right now, but in this case, they did play two thirds of an excellent game, so I suppose that's a positive. It was also promising that (Roberto) Hernandez pitched so well for six innings. But at the end of the game, the Indians were losers for the seventh straight time, and if not for that win the Monday before last, they'd be looking consecutive 0-9 road trips in the face right now.