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April 24, 2009 at 6:31 AM

A blossoming ace

FelixHernandez_2007_005.jpg
Sitting at the airport gate waiting to fly to Anaheim, so I don’t have much time to write this. But I had to say a few words about that Felix Hernandez performance yesterday. For me, this was the second biggest outing of Hernandez’s career. Forget the one-hitter in Boston back in 2007, or some other great performances last season.
The only other, for me, that was bigger than this came at Yankee Stadium back in September 2007, with the Mariners reeling and needing a win to stay in the wild-card hunt. Hernandez delivered that day in New York, with his team’s season hanging in the balance.
That his team was unable to do anything from there said more about the other players on it than Hernandez.
Back to yesterday. Obviously, the stakes weren’t quite as high, but they were larger than they had been a couple of Aprils back when Hernandez threw his signature game in Boston. The M’s had lost some momentum after a 5-2 road trip and needed some help in yesterday’s game since the offense has gone AWOL.
Now, instead of being 9-7 heading into Anaheim, the team is 10-6. Even a sweep by the Angels won’t prevent the Mariners from staying above .500. And that buys this team time to work through injuries and other problems. It’s only one win in April. But there was a little something on the line yesterday and Hernandez delivered. He was as good for seven shutout innings as his team needed him to be.
Reminded me of a young Roy Halladay as he was still blossoming into the ace he is today — the AL’s best pitcher the past six years and counting.
It wasn’t until Halladay’s fourth full season in the bigs — I’d covered him every other year prior to that as well — that he began to put it all together. This season happens to be Hernandez’s fourth full campaign as well. The difference? Halladay was two years older when he entered season No. 4.
I liked what Hernandez delivered yesterday. Liked it a whole lot.

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