Quite a pitcher’s duel in Tropicana Field this afternoon as Felix Hernandez and the Mariners took on Chris Archer and the Rays.
Archer actually outpitched — or at least out game-scored — Hernandez for eight innings. Archer shut down the Mariners’ lineup, allowing only two hits in eight innings, not walking anyone and striking out 12. That’s a 90 game score which makes it the third best performance by that metric all season. Through eight innings Hernandez matched him in the runs allowed department, though he did walk a guy, allowed two more hits and struck out “only” six.
Then the ninth inning happened. Kevin Cash took the ball from Archer, who had thrown only 95 pitches. Maybe he was getting tired. Maybe Cash just thought it was time for his closer, Brad Boxberger to come in. The same Boxberger who took the loss in extras last night when he gave up a homer to Kyle Seager. He’d get back up on that horse this time, right?
Nope: he retired two batters but walked two batters and then gave up a three-run homer to Nelson Cruz. Felix Hernandez, who had only thrown 86 pitches through his eight innings, came out for the ninth and set the Rays down in order, striking out two more guys. Ballgame.
What a pair of performances. What a change of luck for Felix Hernandez, who until this year tended to get no-decisions in games like these.
Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.
Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.
Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.
I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.
It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.