Felix Hernandez has done so much on the mound for the Mariners in his stellar career.
But on a chilly Friday night in front of a packed Safeco Field — most of them holding up “K” placards and wearing free bright gold T-shirts bearing his name — the Mariners’ ace added to another accomplishment into his growing chapter of the organization’s record book.
Hernandez delivered another stellar outing much to the delight of the 38,968 fans in attendance, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs on four hits while striking out 11 in the Mariners’ 6-4 win over the Oakland A’s.
“Unbelievable, that was awesome,” he said. “I had to throw a good game. You can’t throw a bad game with all those people there.”
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Manager Lloyd McClendon had no complaints.
“He was outstanding,” McClendon said. “I thought his stuff worked exceptionally well tonight.
The numbers could have been better. At 100 pitches, McClendon let Hernandez start the eighth.
“I just wanted to make sure he was feeling exceptionally well to go out there for the eighth,” McClendon said.
Hernandez hit Daric Barton with a pitch and gave up a single to Eric Sogard.
“They were just mistakes,” he said.
McClendon pulled Hernandez, but the bullpen couldn’t get out of the minor jam. Lucas Luetge walked a batter to load the bases. He was lifted for Danny Farquhar, who walked in a run and then got a strikeout. McClendon then called on Charlie Furbush, who gave up a broken-bat single to score a run, wild-pitched home a run and allowed another to get across on a fielder’s choice before finally getting a pop out to end the inning.
That little escapade made the score look a little closer in the end. But during Hernandez’s time in the game, he was in total command.
“I felt really good,” he said. “Everything was working.”
He now has three wins in three starts — something he’s never done in his nine previous big-league seasons with the Mariners (6-3). He becomes the first Mariners pitcher to pick up three wins in the first nine games of the season. Only five other pitchers have accomplished the feat in the past decade.
It was the 28th time in his career he struck out 10 or more batters and 25th since 2009. The 25 starts with 10 strikeouts or more since 2009 are the second most in baseball behind one-time teammate Cliff Lee, who has 26.
The A’s gifted the Mariners three runs with fielding miscues, while Mike Zunino blasted a two-run homer and Brad Miller ripped a solo homer in the sixth inning to provide plenty of runs for Hernandez to work with.
A’s hitters were totally baffled. Five different players struck out twice and only two balls were hit with any sort of authority off Hernandez. The A’s have been on the receiving end of these types of performances often.
Hernandez has a 17-7 record against the A’s in 31 career starts. It’s the most wins against any team he has faced in his career.
The Mariners gave Hernandez run support immediately. After getting just one hit in their last game, Abraham Almonte led off the bottom of the first with a double to left field off A’s starter Tommy Milone. Almonte moved to second on Miller’s bunt base hit. Robinson Cano scored Almonte with an infield single.
“Felix is the great equalizer when you got him going,” Miller said. “But Abe hops on that first pitch and we get something going right away.”
Seattle tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Dustin Ackley ripped a two-out double to right-center. Ackley scored when third baseman Josh Donaldson couldn’t finish a brilliant diving stop on Zunino’s ground ball, throwing the ball away. Jed Lowrie then booted a ground ball at shortstop to allow Zunino to score from second.
Up 3-0, the Mariners put the game seemingly out of reach in the sixth. Ackley collected his third hit and Zunino followed with a moonshot homer into the visitors’ bullpen in left field for his second of the season, knocking Milone from the game. Later in the inning, Miller hit a rocket over the wall in center off lefty Drew Pomeranz to make it 6-0.
After the bullpen adventure in the eighth that reduced the lead to 6-4, Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his third save of the season.
|King of the K’s|
|Felix Hernandez struck out 11 batters, the eighth time in his career that he has recorded an 11-strikeout game.|
|13||3||6/28/12 vs. Boston|
|12||6||4/17/13 vs. Detroit|
|11||8||4/11/14 vs. Oakland|
|10||10||9/22/13 at Los Angeles|
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @RyanDivish