The Seattle Mariners peaked too early on Friday evening.
Mike Cameron was in the house, emerging from center field during the pre game festivities and trotting to the mound to a rousing ovation. He threw the ceremonial first pitch before he and Ichiro shared a joyous embrace. It was then announced over loudspeakers that Cammy had signed a one day contract and was retiring a Mariner. The crowd went nuts.
Then Felix Hernandez took the mound. He struck out Jemile Weeks on three pitches. He struck out Coco Crisp on four pitches. He quickly induced a weak flyout from Josh Reddick. In the second inning he struck out Yoenis Cespedes yet again, this time on one of the nastiest changeups you'll see. Seth Smith got a single, but Kurt Suzuki hit into a double play.
It was shaping up to be a great home opener.
And then it wasn't. Felix lost his command in the third, leaving pitches up and allowing A's hitters to get something going. Daric Barton singled, Cliff Pennington doubled, Jemile Weeks walked, Jason Donaldson singled, Coco Crisp singled. 2-0 A's, and that was the difference.
Ichiro, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero all singled. Ackley and Montero each hit theirs particularly hard. The problem was that they were scattered throughout the ballgame. They were the only three hits the Mariners would get off of Bartolo Colon, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour. The Mariner lineup has enough holes that there will be nights like this more often than we'd like.
Felix's velocity didn't magically perk up for the home crowd. Not by much, anyway. He popped 93 a few times but was generally around 91. Maybe he will continue building velocity in tiny increments; it's too early to tell. Like his last start, he was really quite good for stretches but got hit hard during bouts of poor command. Unlike his last start, the Mariners couldn't bail him out. A's win, 4-0.
But Mike Cameron is just the best.