Top of the Third
Granted, King Felix probably faced tougher lineups in the Pacific Coast League than this Royals team, which has lost 15 straight entering the game, but he fans five of the first nine batters and I think Joe McEwing just swung at one heater as catcher Yorvit Torrealba was throwing it back to the mound. And seeing McEwing in the lineup is a reminder that although it has been a painful year for the Mariners, rooting for the Royals must be proof that all our sins haven't been forgiven.
Top of the Fourth
Ambres fans, looking again at another curveball. He didn't see pitches like that in Triple-A.
Mike Sweeney -- hey, a Royal you've actually heard of! -- is thrown out on another spectacular play by Betancourt, who fields a chopper behind second base and somehow manages to fling it sidearm as he crosses over to the shortstop side of second. An amazing play. I think the Mariners have their shortstop of the future. Please let him learn to hit a little, too.
King Felix finishes the inning fanning Emil Brown on a 97-mph sinking fastball. Yes, you read that correctly: a 97-mph pitch at the knees.
What's been impressive is that Hernandez has had strikeouts on four different pitches: a straight power fastball on the inner half, the curve, a fastball on the outside corner, and a sinking fastball.
The first four innings are played in 53 minutes. The King gets the ball, the King throws the ball; confident, even-keeled, with little facial expression and no wasted energy. Get the ball, throw the ball. Strike three, you're out.
Top of the Fifth
Allow a short rant against Mariners management: They've been a complete and utter disaster the past couple of seasons, the anti-"Moneyball" approach to building a team. They overpaid for mediocre vets like Scott Spiezio, who is still on the roster despite just two hits on the season (that's not a typo; he's 2-for-45). They had nobody to play shortstop. They call up and send down catchers twice a week. Adrian Beltre, the first huge-money free agent signing in club history, has been a colossal flop, with a .260 average, .300 on-base percentage and $11.4 million salary. Bret Boone woke up one night in April, discovered his bat speed was gone, and never found the Jason Giambi medicine in his locker. Willie Bloomquist is hitting second tonight. A pitcher with a 6-12 record tested positive for steroids, leaving Mariners fans wondering why he couldn't have at least been good. They started the season with an $86 million payroll, ninth-highest in the majors, and were so bad, despite spending more than $100 million on free agents Beltre and Richie Sexson, they decided to gut the roster midseason and start over with a bunch of kids.
So, you see, we're rooting for King Felix because we need King Felix.
Not to add pressure on him.
It's 1-2-3 in the fifth and Hernandez introduces Mark Teahan to his third pitch ... an 86-mph changeup. Think about that for two seconds. Hernandez throws some 96-mph gas, one of which Teahan breaks his bat on, on a pitch that was a foot outside, and then throws three straight changeups. Teahan somehow lays off the first two but can't hold back on No. 3.