DETROIT – The marquee match-up between Felix Hernandez and David Price failed to live up to its billing.
Hernandez admitted to being a little off. Home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo did not, although it was clear he was. Felix was not getting strike calls he should have, and as a result his pitch count accumulated at an alarming pace, with 21 in the first, 27 in the second and 20 in the third. It became evident early that his MLB-record string of 16 consecutive starts of seven innings or more with two runs or fewer allowed would come to an end in Detroit with a good dose of frustration.
Perhaps no one was more frustrated than Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who had to watch the majority of the game in the visiting manager’s office after he was ejected in the second inning. Randazzo ran him from the dugout for chirping at him while Felix was pitching. The problem was, McClendon claims he said nothing before the ejection.
“I was most upset that I got thrown out of the ballgame – he thought it was me that was saying something and it wasn’t me,” McClendon said. “It probably upset me more than anything then when I went out there to ask him why was I thrown out: ‘Well, I have seen your act before,’ and I don’t think that is called for. That’s not fair. If you think I said something about balls or strikes then throw me out of the game. I get that. To talk about past history, that’s not fair. It is what it is, it’s over with, just move on.”
McClendon was seen arguing earlier in the game but said that he put his head down and stopped when Randazzo put his hand up to say enough. It is not uncommon for coaches or players on the bench to voice displeasure at calls during games, so it could have been any number of Mariners that Randazzo reacted to. This loss and umpire situation is something that McClendon said is now in the rear-view mirror.
“We move on. The stars didn’t align tonight and we just move on,” he said.
McClendon credited Tigers starter Price with pitching a good game. Mariners hitters were only able to score one run off of him in the 4-2 loss.
Felix exited the game after the fifth inning in part because of his pitch count but mostly because he was hit in the hip with a comebacker in the previous inning. While he said that it would not impact his next start, you could see it was bothering him a bit in the clubhouse.
“It’s okay,” Felix said. “I will live. It’s pretty sore.”
As for not getting key pitches called, Felix knew better than to criticize an umpire. He did still make his feelings known, though, when I asked him what impact McClendon’s ejection and others yelling about the calls had on him.
“That’s a good question,” he answered. “What was going on. If you saw the game you probably know what happened.”
Felix was not blaming the loss on the calls – in fact he admitted he was not as sharp as he has been in recent outings.
“It was okay,” he said of his stuff that night. “It was okay, it was not that good. Changeup was up a little bit and I was missing a little. Not by much, but the fastball command was not there either.”
He was well aware that his streak had come to an end.
“It’s over,” he said, answering the question before it was asked. “It’s over. I just got to start a new one.”