Our hot streak came to an end last night in the most painful way. We backed the Colorado Rockies on the run line against the Los Angeles Angels. The game was a wild one and was back and forth all evening long. Entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rockies held a 7-5 lead, good enough for the win and run line cover. But unfortunately for us, the Rockies bullpen came in and got hammered.
The Angels exploded for five runs in the bottom of the eighth, and Los Angeles stole game one of the series 10-7. The Rockies can ill afford to be blowing games like these late as they are just a game back of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League West Division race, with the Los Angeles Dodgers also lurking just a game behind Colorado in third place. The NL West race looks to be the best race in baseball as three teams all have legitimate chances of taking home the title. For today’s pick, we will look at another team that is in the playoff chase as the Seattle Mariners travel to San Diego to play the Padres.
The Seattle Mariners continue their West Coast road trip Tuesday as they head to San Diego for a quick two-game set with the Padres. The Mariners just took two of three games from the Arizona Diamondbacks to start the roadie and will head to Oakland for a huge showdown with the Athletics after this series.
The Mariners must win and win now if they want to make up ground on the A’s, as Oakland is currently four and a half games ahead of Seattle for the last playoff spot in the American League. The Padres have lost eleven out of their last thirteen games and are playing out the string of what has been yet another disappointing season.
Starting for the Mariners tonight is Felix Hernandez (8-11 5.64 ERA), and for the Padres it is rookie Jacob Nix (1-2 6.17 ERA). The Mariners are -124 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PST from PETCO Park in San Diego.
The Seattle Mariners got some more bad news yesterday as starter Marco Gonzalez was placed on the ten day disabled list with a strained neck. Gonzalez has been one of the best pitchers on the team for much of the season before struggling badly in his last couple of starts as he attempted to pitch through pain. The Mariners are hoping Marco will only miss a start or two, but in the meantime, they will need the rest of this depleted rotation to step up.
And that starts and ends with tonight’s starter, Felix Hernandez. Once the King of Seattle, Hernandez has struggled through a terrible season. Hernandez has arguably been one of the worst starters in the American League this year, something that seemed almost impossible coming into this season for the many time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner.
The Mariners even went as far as doing the unthinkable, as they pulled Hernandez from the rotation and sent him to the bullpen. Hernandez made one appearance out of the ‘pen before injuries forced the Mariners to insert him back into the rotation. The Mariners are hoping that the short time in the bullpen was a wake-up call for the veteran hurler. Hernandez pitched ok in his first start back in the rotation last week when he held the hard-hitting Houston Astros to four runs in six innings of work, and the Mariners won the game.
One place that Felix has always been the King has been in San Diego. Hernandez owns the Padres in SoCal. In seven career starts in San Diego, Hernandez is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.51. PETCO Park is notoriously a great pitching park, and Hernandez loves to pitch in San Diego. The Mariners need a big performance out of Hernandez tonight to keep pace with the Astros and the A’s in the American League West chase.
The Padres will counter Hernandez with rookie Jacob Nix. Nix has made three career starts, all coming in the last month with the Padres. The home-grown talent from Fullerton, California will try and recreate the magic he showed in his first career start where he pitched six shutout innings. His next two starts have not been nearly as kind as he has gotten hammered for a combined eight runs in five and two-thirds of an inning.
This is a typical late August matchup. One team that is tanking squaring off against one team that is in the playoff hunt. The Padres have been pretty bad all season, but right now they are not even really competitive. A guy like Jacob Nix is only going to start for a team that isn’t really trying to win games.
The key to this game is Felix Hernandez. Will he be able to get back on track after a brutal season? If the Mariners are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001, they need their venerable workhorse to start working. The Mariners wasted all of Hernandez’s prime on bad teams, and now that they have a playoff caliber squad, he doesn’t seem to have much left in the gas tank.
But for some reason, I think he figures things out tonight. It helps that the Padres are the worst hitting team in the majors, and the PETCO Park is the toughest park to hit in as well. But I think we saw in his last start, while Hernandez might now have the arm that he used to have, he still has all that heart. He is still a gamer, and I think he finds a way to shut down this Padres team enough for the Mariners to sneak out with a win.
This line is shockingly low considering the Mariners are seventeen games over .500 and the Padres are the worst team in the National League right now. I guess it is all the Felix hate that has kept this line tight. You are either betting on the Mariners or against Hernandez in this one. And I am going to bet on the Mariners. Even if Hernandez isn’t great, this M’s team has been hitting the ball much better recently after getting Robinson Cano back in the lineup, and I think they find a way to win tonight. Give me the Seattle Mariners as small road favorites at -124!