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.