Not a bad night for the Mariners battery. Felix Hernandez came one out from a complete game shutout and catcher Mike Zunino homered and knocked in all three runs in a 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels.
Zunino continues his impressive growth, working his way to a hitter’s count for the two-out, two-run single in the second and then jumping on a fastball for a solo home run in the eighth.
But this night was all about Felix.
“He was phenomenal,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “Right from the start, I thought he had great command of all his pitches. His fastball was really, really exceptional tonight. I think that’s two times in a row you could see he’s starting to get stronger. Pretty impressive. Breaking stuff was sharp. Just a great night for him.”
Hernandez becomes just the seventh pitcher in team history to reach seven wins before June 1. He’s at 7-1 on the season (5-1 following an M’s loss) and lowered his ERA to 2.57.
The King has pitched at least eight inning in three straight starts and has won four in a row.
The only quibble was not being able to close it out, allowing a two-out RBI double to Albert Pujols in the ninth inning. Asked if he had eyes on that first shutout, Hernandez said:
“Yeah, for sure. Definitely. One. Out. Away. But it’s fine.”
McClendon said there was no doubt about bringing Hernandez back in for the ninth at just 104 pitches. There might have been, though, with the decision to bring on closer Fernando Rodney to finish it up.
“It’s just tough,” McClendon said. “You have to weigh the player but you also have to weigh what’s good for the team. I had my closer up and he was ready to go, so we thought it was the best matchup and went with it.”
The pitch that had everyone talking after the game was Hernandez’ fastball.
Zunino said there has been “a little extra” on the heater in the ace’s last two starts, and Hernandez cracked a wide smile when told he was hitting 95 miles per hour Wednesday.
“Really?” he said. “Still got it… Still got it…”
Yes. Yes, he does.
Here are some notes from the team:
* * *
- Seattle improved to 6-2 against the Angels this season and 20-17 against the American League West this season.
- Felix Hernandez won his 7th game of the season, becoming just the 7th pitcher in club history with 7+ wins before June, the first since 2003…Jamie Moyer (2003) and Aaron Sele (2001) hold the club record with 8 wins prior to June 1, while Gil Meche (2003), Randy Johnson (1997), Dave Fleming (1992) & Rick Honeycutt (1980) each had 7.
- Felix Hernandez has won each of his last 4 starts, during the four-game winnings streak is 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA (8 ER, 31.1 IP) with 30 strikeouts, notching wins against Tampa Bay, at Minnesota and vs. Houston.
o Seattle has won each of Felix’s last five starts since May 7th.
- Felix Hernandez has made 10 of his 12 starts against the A.L. West this year & 15 of last 18 starts (since 2013).
o vs. A.L. West this season is 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA (18 ER, 69.1 IP) with 71 strikeouts in 10 starts.
o vs. the Angels over last two seasons is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA (13 ER, 45.2 IP) with 53 strikeouts in 7 starts.
- Seattle has won 5 of his last 7 starts against the Angels since 2013.
- Felix Hernandez has tossed 8.0+ innings in each of his last 3 starts against Minnesota, Houston & Los Angeles-AL.
o 7th time in his career to toss 8.0+ innings in at least 3 consecutive starts (last: April 27-May 8, 2013).
- Felix Hernandez tossed 8.0 shutout innings, 26th time in his career with 8.0+ shutout innings.
o Since the start of 2005, leads Majors with 26 such starts (Cliff Lee, 24 & CC Sabathia, 22 follow).
- Mike Zunino drove in all three Mariners runs in tonight’s game.
o Zunino is hitting .357 (15×42) with 5 home runs and 12 RBI in 12 starts by Felix Hernandez.
- Justin Smoak is hitting .355 (11×31) with 9 runs, 3 doubles, 4 home runs, 12 RBI, 6 walks in last 9 G vs. Angels.
- Seattle pitching staff has a 2.38 ERA (19 ER, 72.0 IP) with 71 strikeouts against the Angels this season in 8 games.
o Seattle starters have posted 2.81 ERA (16 ER, 51.1 IP) with 51 strikeouts against the Angels.
· A fly ball hit by Justin Smoak to deep right field initially ruled as fair was challenged and overturned in the 4th inning … time of review was 42 seconds.