Sports

Felix Fantastic

Ace gets M’s back on their feet against Indians

CLEVELAND – Of all the impressive numbers All-Star Felix Hernandez is producing this season, Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu is most impressed with his ace’s ability to stop losing streaks.

Hernandez (10-3) allowed two runs in eight innings in the Mariners’ 6-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night, making him 9-2 in starts following a Seattle loss. The M’s lost 4-1 to Cleveland on Thursday.

“That’s an ace. That’s an All-Star,” Wakamatsu said. “To be able to run somebody out there with that caliber, especially after a loss last night and how sloppy we played, it’s nice to be able to turn right around and play pretty good baseball.”

Hernandez allowed five hits, walked one and struck out eight in his first start since pitching a scoreless inning in Tuesday’s All-Star game. He lowered his ERA to 2.51, ranking him second in the American League behind Kansas City’s Zack Greinke (2.12).

“I’m commanding all of my pitches,” Hernandez said. “I’m aggressive and can attack the strike zone. I can throw any pitch in any count. That’s the key for me right now.”

Since his last loss on May 19, Hernandez is 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 10 starts.

“He throws 97 and everything sinks,” said recently acquired third baseman Jack Hannahan, who had plenty of experience facing Hernandez while playing in Oakland. “Nothing he throws is straight.”

The Indians didn’t get a runner past second base until the sixth, when Grady Sizemore tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly. Sizemore doubled home the Indians’ other run in the eighth and is 7 for 14 overall against Hernandez.

Cleveland’s only other legitimate scoring threat was in the eighth, but Ben Francisco hit into a double play with runners at first and second and no outs. Francisco is 0 for 9 against Hernandez.

“He had an outstanding fastball,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s always had a great arm, but he’s really matured as a pitcher and how he utilizes his stuff. He has a special arm and he’s pitching with it.”

Franklin Gutierrez, acquired from Cleveland in a three-team trade last December, hit his 11th home run in the second. He entered with a league-best .385 average since June 18 and has hit in 23 of his last 25 games.

“I’m playing every day and I’m playing relaxed,” Gutierrez said. “I’m not putting pressure on myself. When I was playing here, I felt a little bit of pressure because I wanted to play every day. Here they gave me the opportunity to do that.”

Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki had two hits to extend his streak to 13 games.



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