The Mariners enter the All-Star break with a win, thanks to a throwback performance from Felix Hernandez.
Here are three thoughts from the Mariners’ 4-0 win Sunday against the A’s:
1. Felix Hernandez pitched like Felix Hernandez.
In his fourth start back from the disabled list, Hernandez looked like, well, his old self. Or at least close to that version.
He pitched six scoreless inning, allowed only two hits, walked three and, most noteworthy of all, struck out a season-high eight batters. He worked ahead of hitters often, and on Sunday, he was able to put them away.
Hernandez hadn’t struck out eight hitters in a game since Aug. 20, 2016.
His performance was easily the most encouraging part of Sunday. Hernandez has lasted exactly six innings in each of his four starts since returning from injury, but the results have been mixed.
Twice he’d given up three runs and been pretty solid if not spectacular. Last time out, he gave up six runs (five earned). He had allowed five home runs in those three starts.
Hernandez’s last start before the All-Star break was also probably his best of the season: fewest hits allowed, most strikeouts, only the second start in which he didn’t give up a home run.
2. The Mariners needed this one.
It wasn’t a must win or anything, but the Mariners needed to head into the break with something positive to hang their hat on after a brutal stretch.
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The Mariners (43-47) had lost 10 of their last 13 games heading into Sunday. At one point in that stretch, they lost eight straight home games.
If nothing else, the Mariners head into the break having won two of their last three to split their four-game set with Oakland.
3. Nelson Cruz is heating up again.
Cruz drilled a two-run homer in the fourth inning to straight away center to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead. It was Cruz’s third home run in his last five games, a good sign for the Mariners.
Before homering on July 5, Cruz had gone 24 games without a home run. Manager Scott Servais has said before that good home run hitters seem to hit them in bunches, and Cruz appears to be back in one of those stretches.