Roberto Hernandez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, but Felix Hernandez threw a gem and the Indians couldn’t hold off the Mariners late in the game Tuesday night as Seattle beat the Tribe 5-1 at Safeco Field. The loss was Cleveland’s seventh straight, sending the Indians back to 54-69, 13.5 games behind in the AL Central.
Though Jason Kipnis led off the game with a base hit to immediately spoil Mariners starter Felix Hernandez’ chances of throwing his second straight perfect game, it was a genuine pitcher’s duel for the first few innings in Seattle. Cleveland starter Roberto Hernandez pitched more than halfway to a no-hitter, but Eric Thames smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to end the no-no and give the M’s a 1-0 lead.
The Indians finally got on the board in the top of the seventh. After Shin-Soo Choo led off with a groundout, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley reached with back-to-back base hits to put runners at the corners with one out. Casey Kotchman delivered with an RBI single to tie the score at 1-1 give the Tribe their only run of the game.
But the Mariners pulled ahead in the bottom of the inning. Roberto Hernandez walked Michael Saunders to lead of the inning, then gave up a single to Kyle Seager and a ground-rule double to John Jaso on consecutive pitches to make it 2-1 Seattle; Esmil Rogers then gave up a three-run bomb to Jesus Montero. Cleveland threatened in the eighth by putting two on with no outs for the top of the order, but the Indians couldn’t get anything out of it as the Mariners cruised to a 5-1 win.
The Good: Though the box score might not show it, it was a solid start for Roberto Hernandez. Say he gets taken out after the sixth inning instead of being left in too long and he’d have give up just one run on one hit while allowing only one walk. Add in that 11 of the 18 balls in play he allowed were grounders and we’re talking about a pretty darn good outing.
Meanwhile, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, and Casey Kotchman all went 2-for-4.
The Bad: Roberto Hernandez fell apart in the seventh inning—particularly disappointing since he’d been pitching well up to that point and his biggest asset is usually his durability. Also, while you can excuse an offensive off night against Felix Hernandez, the Indians didn’t get a single extra-base hit.
The “Huh?”: Nearly a third of voters in a FanGraphs poll Tuesday night said they expected Felix Hernandez to throw a perfect game. I’m sure a lot of the respondents were being facetious, but still. It took Hernandez 230 career games to pitch a perfecto—you really expect him to do it twice in a row?
Interesting Tidbit: Tuesday night was the third time this year that the Indians faced a pitcher who had thrown a perfect game in the last three weeks. The Tribe faced Phillip Humber on May 2 and May 7 after he threw a perfecto on April 21.