TORONTO – If Felix Hernandez had a Cy Young vote, he’d cast it for Kansas City’s Zack Greinke. The batters who faced Hernandez on Thursday night might find it difficult to vote for anyone but the Seattle ace.
Hernandez had a season-high 11 strikeouts, Josh Wilson hit a tiebreaking two-run triple in the eighth inning and the Mariners beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4.
“His stuff was unbelievable tonight,” Toronto’s Vernon Wells said of Hernandez. “He left a lot of guys shaking their heads, just trying to figure out what to do to put a ball in play.”
Hernandez (17-5) allowed four runs, three earned, and seven hits in eight innings to improve to 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last six starts. The right-hander, a candidate for the A.L. Cy Young Award, also moved to 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 18 road starts.
“Felix was absolutely tremendous,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I thought the first couple of innings, that’s as good of stuff as I’ve seen him have.”
Hernandez credited an on-form changeup for his high strikeout total.
“The strikeouts, everything was change-ups,” Hernandez said. “It was unbelievable today. First time I’ve had a changeup like this.”
Hernandez, who has two starts remaining, said he’s not thinking about his Cy Young candidacy. But he likes Greinke, who has won four straight decisions after losing five of six.
“I’d vote for Greinke, he’s doing a great job.” Hernandez said. “He’s tough, he’s nasty.”
Wakamatsu wouldn’t hesitate to vote for Hernandez.
“I’d vote for Felix, without a doubt,” Wakamatsu said. “I don’t know if anybody has impacted the club this year greater than he has. You’ve got to remember, too, he’s 23 years old.”
Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run homer for Seattle, which has won six of eight.
Wilson gave the Mariners a 5-3 lead with a two-out triple to right off left-hander Jesse Carlson (1-6), scoring Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall.