NEW YORK – Felix Hernandez said before Tuesday’s game that he was ready to pitch two innings.
He only went one, but the Mariners’ ace made the most of his first All-Star appearance since 2009. Hernandez blanked the National League in the fourth inning to do his part in the American League’s 3-0 victory at Citi Field.
“It was real special,’’ Hernandez said. “My mom and dad were in the stands watching me. It was a good thing to have a good inning. I think I represented Seattle pretty good.”
Hernandez followed Max Scherzer of Detroit and Chris Sale of the White Sox to the mound, a rare relief appearance that took some adjustment.
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“It was pretty weird,’’ he said. “I started warming up in the second inning, and it was a little different. I didn’t feel that comfortable, but I just tried to live the moment.”
Working with a 1-0 lead, Hernandez got Brandon Phillips to ground out softly to third, but yielded a single to left by Carlos Beltran.
Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates ran for Beltran and stole second, then moved to third on a ground out by Joey Votto. Up came Mets third baseman David Wright, the favorite son of the crowd of 45,186, but Hernandez retired him on a grounder to third.
“I just tried to make a good pitch,’’ he said. “I didn’t want that guy to score. It was a 1-0 game, so I was just trying to make a good pitch and get him out.”
Hernandez wound up throwing 13 pitches. In his only other All-Star appearance, in ’09 in St. Louis, Hernandez needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order. He didn’t pitch in either of his other two All-Star selections, in 2011 and 2012.
“He (AL manager Jim Leyland) told me before the game I was going to pitch one inning, and one is good enough,’’ he said. “It was nice, man, especially here in New York, with this crowd. It was pretty special.”
The Mariners’ other representative, Hisashi Iwakuma was inactive for the game by virtue of pitching for the Mariners on Sunday. But he was soaking up the atmosphere, starting with the Home Run Derby on Monday.
“It’s impressive, overwhelming,’’ Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “You look at how much power these guys have, and the swings they take, there’s not much to say. Every one of them out there, they put on a good show. Every one of them made me a big fan.”
Iwakuma took particular delight in riding in the parade to the ballpark Tuesday with his wife and three kids in a white Chevrolet. Hernandez and his family drove in a pickup truck on a route lined with fans.
“That was very fun,’’ Iwakuma said. “I’ve never done anything like that. I was very nervous, but at the same time very excited. To see all the fans and people who came out to see the parade was awesome.”
Iwakuma said having his family in New York with him enhanced the event.
“It’s a special experience being able to be a part of the All-Star event,’’ he said. “At the same time, it’s the All-Star break, too, so you want to enjoy the time off away from the season.”
After the game, Iwakuma said being part of Mariano Rivera’s final All-Star Game was another highlight.
“During the season, you usually face that guy,’’ he said. “To have him on the same team and be teammates and be able to communicate with him was very unique. Being able to experience his last All-Star Game with him was very special as well.”
And so was the AL victory, which snapped a three-game losing streak. “Today’s game and today’s victory will stay in my heart,’’ Iwakuma said.
|Felix as an All-Star|
|Felix Hernandez of the Mariners pitched the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game.|
|2013 at New York||1.0||13||1||0|
|2009 at St. Louis||1.0||8||0||0|
|Note: Felix was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012 but did not pitch in the games.|
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry