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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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August 7, 2008 8:49 PM

Tampa Bay Rays at Mariners: 08/07 game thread

Posted by Geoff Baker

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This is the best I've seen Felix Hernandez look in a long time. Considering the caliber of the team he's facing, maybe his finest game since that one-hitter at Fenway Park. I'm serious. Forget strikeouts. He doesn't need them. Keeps mowing hitters down 1-2-3. As efficient as he's ever looked. You want to be a true ace -- one who goes seven-to-nine innings routinely, this is what you have to do. He's doing it -- very well.

Unfortunately for him, Andy Sonnanstine retired a franchise record 17 in a row at one point. So, it's still 1-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth. A four-hitter by Hernandez so far.

One of the most exciting young teams in baseball is visiting town tonight. Somebody forgot to tell the Seattle baseball community. Quite the tiny crowd tonight (OK, it's actually 25,423 but looked pretty small to start off. Still hardly a packed house). I guess Rays Nation has yet to catch on as a traveling pack.

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8:45 p.m.: We're already in the seventh inning, believe it or not. The Mariners trail 1-0, the lone run scoring on a wild-pitch by Felix Hernandez in the fourth inning. Hernandez is back out there at 85 pitches to start the seventh. The team needs more of the same from him. This is the type of game where one mistake will likely decide the victor. So far, the Hernandez wild-pitch is the only severe mistake and it's costly on the scoreboard.

7:30 p.m.: The Mariners pulled the same L.O.B. stunt in the second inning. Jose Lopez led off with a double to the left field corner and off the glove of Carl Crawford. Lopez made it to third with one out on a grounder, but then was stranded there. Wladimir Balentien popped out to second and Bryan LaHair grounded out to first. Yeesh.

Felix Hernandez got through the first two innings, six up and six down, on just 16 pitches. Could be a good night for him. He hasn't gone past six innings since June 17. That's quite a while, injury or not.

7:17 p.m.: Felix Hernandez retired the side on three straight groundouts in a nine-pitch first inning.

Ichiro extended hit hit streak to 13 games with a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, made it to second with none out on a wild-pitch, then third with one out. But Raul Ibanez grounded out to first unassisted, with Ichiro holding. And Adrian Beltre -- unluckily, perhaps -- popped out to first to end the threat.

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