KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It wasn’t the hits and runs he gave up in the first inning. It wasn’t the comebacker off the bat of Ryan O’Hearn that might or might not have hit him, or the awkward maneuver of trying to avoid that comebacker.
No, Felix Hernandez left his start Monday night at Kauffman Stadium after pitching one inning due to “virus-like symptoms” — that was the in-game injury update released to media members from the Mariners just after the second inning.
After the game, Hernandez said he thinks he might have food poisoning and not the stomach flu. He started having stomach issues early Sunday evening and it got worse through the night and into Monday. He said his brother ate with him Sunday and is having similar stomach issues.
“I woke up and kept throwing up,” he said. “I threw up like 14 times.”
That’s not an ideal way to spend his 33rd birthday.
“No, it sucks,” he said.
And yet, he wanted to take the ball and make his start.
“With the way our team has been hitting, I knew I only needed to give them five innings,” he said.
The Mariners prepared accordingly.
“We knew going into the game he did not feel well,” manager Scott Servais said after the game. “So we knew it would be a shorter outing. We were hoping that he might give us three or four innings. It just wasn’t the case.”
It wasn’t a good beginning to his second start of the season. Hernandez gave up two runs in the first three batters he faced. Leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield singled, Adalberto Mondesi followed with an run-scoring double to the left-center gap and Alex Gordon pulled a run-scoring single through the right side to make it 2-0.
Hernandez came back to strike out Jorge Soler looking. O’Hearn’s comebacker was almost an inning-ending double play. Shortstop Dylan Moore fielded it, hustled to second base and then fired to first, but O’Hearn barely beat out the throw. On the play, Hernandez made an awkward move to get out of the way, falling to the mound. When he got up from the mound, he felt dizzy.
“I kept getting dizzier and dizzier,” he said.
Seeing Hernandez slow to get up and looking injured, Servais and athletic trainer Rob Nodine came to the mound to check on him. After a brief conversation, Hernandez remained in the game, but reliever Chasen Bradford got up in the bullpen and began throwing.
“He wanted to try and get through the first,” Servais said. “And then I made the call after that.”
Hernandez hit Hunter Dozier with a pitch and then got Chris Owings to fly out to center to end the inning, and Bradford replaced Hernandez in the second inning.