Friday night's 10th-inning 8-7 win over the Chicago White Sox that had Mariners' fans thinking "Hey! We can win games by scoring a lot of runs!", a big mess struck on Saturday. With the crowned king of pitching, Felix Hernandez, on the mound the Mariners still found a way to drop a 4-3 matchup to the Sox in swirling winds at U.S. Cellular Field.
Here's why the loss was so bad...
1. Felix was on the mound. If the Mariners want to be in contention for a division title, they need to win games when he's pitching. Much like in the past, however, Hernandez got very little run support from his guys. When he's the ace that gives you the best chance to win, you've got to take advantage of it - because the back end of the rotation isn't going to keep you in 1-0, 2-0 games.
2. It was a freak game. As said above, the wind was swirling, blowing the ball and garbage all over the place. Several times Mariners hits appeared to be knocked down by the win into harmless fly outs. That didn't stop the White Sox, who got a 2-run jack from Alex Rios in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie. It was a crushing homer against Felix that I thought essentially ended the game. Michael Saunders notched a 2-run homer in the 8th, but the comeback fell short for the M's. You can't blame them with the weather conditions out there.
3. It was a missed opportunity. The M's defeated the White Sox 8-7 using the tail end of their starting rotation, meaning they were going to wrap up this series with their No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers going. Obviously in baseball you want to win series ... and this should have set the Mariners up win the series. Instead we're going to a rubber match tomorrow after a deflating Seattle loss.
At least Seattle (3-3) will get a three-game series against the Astros starting Monday at Safeco. Maybe that will put a little energy back in their sails. (But then they follow that up with four-game series against powerhouse Texas... yuck)