The Angels’ Mike Trout continues his mastery of the Mariners’ ace, hitting a 2-run homer in the sixth inning to put Los Angeles ahead to stay in a 4-2 win.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Any nausea or physical discomfort that Felix Hernandez felt Saturday night wasn’t the product of the flu bug that sidelined him for a day. No, his irritation stemmed from the nagging pain that is Mike Trout.
The perennial American League Most Value Player candidate continued his consistent torture of Hernandez and the Mariners in the Angels’ 4-2 victory.
After establishing the record for most strikeouts in Mariners history in the first inning, Hernandez was cruising toward the 145th win of his career, which would tie him with Jamie Moyer for most in club history.
Mariners @ L.A. Angels, 12:35 p.m., ROOT Sports
That was until Trout put a stop to it with one compact, violent swing of the bat.
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Up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to Nelson Cruz’s solo homer in the top half of the inning, Hernandez gave up a leadoff single to Rafael Ortega, the player he struck out for the strikeout record and struck out again in his second at-bat.
That brought Trout to the plate. The all-star outfielder has given Hernandez more trouble than any other hitter. He had doubled earlier in the game and entered the game with four career homers off Hernandez.
A 1-0 sinker that leaked over the inside half of the plate became home run No. 5. Trout hammered the ball to dead center. It rocketed over the fence and beyond the bushes behind the fence for a two-run homer.
“He made a mistake to a very good player,” said manager Scott Servais.
MLB Statcast measured the blast at 435 feet. Hernandez slammed his hand in his glove the moment Trout made contact, knowing it was gone.
“I was trying to go in and it was middle in and a little bit up,” Hernandez said. “You know Trout, Trout’s a really good hitter. You can’t miss to him.”
For his career, Trout is hitting .368 (25 for 68) with four doubles, two triples, five homers and 15 RBI against Hernandez.
“I always do a lot of things to pitch to him differently,” Hernandez said. “He’s a good hitter and has a good approach against me. That’s why he’s got those numbers.”
Hernandez refuses to give in and just pitch around him. He has struck out Trout 21 times.
“I don’t like it because I know I can get him out,” Hernandez said. “I know he can hit me. He was right on it. I knew he was going to swing. I was trying to go in.”
That’s the place to beat Trout, but it can’t just be a little bit inside.
“It needs to be in-in or away-away,” Hernandez said. “If it’s up and in-in, he doesn’t hit it. But it was middle-in and up, and he hits that pitch.”
It was the only bad mistake Hernandez made. He worked seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts but fell to 1-2. He wouldn’t use his sickness as an excuse.
“I was good,” he said. “I felt good. Just coughing a lot, but I was fine.”
But it wasn’t a fun 36 hours before his start as he dealt with all the fun things that come from the flu.
“I was bad,” he said. “I don’t like to miss any games, but it was bad. I got it when we left Cleveland. I never sleep on a plane, and I slept the whole trip.”
The pitch to Trout overshadowed his milestone achievement.
With a swinging strikeout of Ortega in the first inning, Hernandez surpassed Randy Johnson to become the Mariners’ strikeout leader with 2,163.
It was fitting it came against the Angels as they are the team he has the most strikeouts against (now 308).
Hernandez recorded 2,148 strikeouts before age 30 — the fourth-most by any pitcher behind Walter Johnson (2,302), Sam McDowell (2,271) and Bert Blyleven (2,250), and just ahead of Nolan Ryan (2,085).
“It’s an honor to be up there,” he said. “But you know, we lost the game. I don’t care about the record. We lost the game.”
The Mariners held a brief 2-1 lead after scoring in the top of the sixth.
With one out, Cruz hit a 3-1 fastball that was above his belt, sending a towering solo homer into the Angels’ bullpen in left field. It was his second homer in as many games.
“Up and down, but it feels better,” Cruz said of swing. “I think the more games I play I will feel more comfortable.”
Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the second inning against Hector Santiago.
Franklin Gutierrez led off with a double down the left-field line to start the inning. With one out, Santiago issued back-to-back walks to Chris Iannetta and Dae-Ho Lee to load the bases. The Mariners got a run on Leonys Martin’s sacrifice fly to deep center.
But Santiago ended the inning by grabbing Norichika Aoki’s hard comebacker.
“We had a chance to get a crooked number up there but couldn’t quite get it done,” Servais said.
Santiago settled in after that, retiring nine of the next 10 hitters.