SEATTLE – Seven innings through his latest scoreless duel and Felix Hernandez was done for the night.
There were times this season when it would have been unthinkable to pull Hernandez at 103 pitches heading into the eighth inning, but those days, apparently, are long gone. Hernandez lowered his earned-run average to 2.38 Tuesday night but did not factor in the decision of a game his team came back to win, 3-1, over the Los Angeles Angels with three eighth-inning runs.
Adam Moore delivered the go-ahead single in the eighth off Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen. Moore’s flare over the head of second baseman Howie Kendrick also helped the Seattle catcher atone for an earlier baserunning gaffe that ended a rare Mariners scoring chance.
Hernandez was dominant as usual, retiring 14 of the final 16 batters he faced and reaching the 200-strikeout plateau for the second straight year by fanning Erick Aybar in the seventh. The crowd of 18,737 at Safeco Field saw Hernandez not allow an earned run for the fourth time in his past five outings, once again staking his claim for a run at the American League Cy Young Award.
But to capture the ultimate pitching prize, Hernandez will have to convince Baseball Writers’ Association of America members to ignore a win-loss record that remained struck at 10-10 because his team once again failed to score runs for him.
Los Angeles starter Dan Haren scattered seven hits over seven shutout innings and the Mariners once again ran themselves out of a potential rally. With two on and two out in the second, Ichiro chopped an infield single.
Angels shortstop Aybar cut across the diamond to take the ball. Lead runner Moore took a very wide turn at third base and wandered too far off the bag.
Aybar stared Moore down and seemed to freeze him in his tracks with several pump fakes. Moore finally tried to dive back into third base but was tagged out to end the inning.
The Angels finally broke the scoring ice off Brandon League in the top of the eighth, with Alberto Callaspo and Kendrick notching back-to-back doubles. But the M’s came right back in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out off Jepsen, who had just come on to replace Haren.
Michael Saunders delivered a fly ball to the base of the warning track in right field that was plenty deep enough to bring the tying run in from third. And then, Moore delivered the clutch single to make it a 2-1 game.
Josh Wilson delivered a huge single to left after that to bring in a third run and give closer David Aardsma a two-run cushion to start off the ninth.
Hernandez sits second in the A.L. in ERA, trailing only the 2.21 by Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox.
Hernandez’s 200 strikeouts ties him for the league lead with Angels starter Jered Weaver.
E—Bourjos (1), Figgins (15). LOB—Los Angeles 6, Seattle 10. 2B—Callaspo (24), H.Kendrick (34), Jo.Lopez (25). RBIs—H.Kendrick (64), M.Saunders (29), A.Moore (10), Jo.Wilson (19). SB—Callaspo (5), I.Suzuki (35), Figgins (33). SF—M.Saunders. RLISP—Los Angeles 3 (J.Mathis 3); Seattle 5 (Jo.Lopez 2, F.Gutierrez, A.Moore, I.Suzuki). GIDP—Tor.Hunter, Napoli, J.Mathis. DP—Seattle 3 (Jo.Wilson, Figgins, Kotchman), (Jo.Lopez, Kotchman), (Jo.Lopez, Figgins, Kotchman).
|Jepsen L, 2-4 BS, 4-4||2/3||2||3||3||2||1||23||5.04|
|League W, 9-6||1||2||1||1||1||1||18||2.78|
|Aardsma S, 26-31||1||0||0||0||1||0||20||3.86|
IR-S—F.Rodriguez 2-1. IBB—off League (B.Abreu). PB—J.Mathis. T—2:34. A—18,737 (47,878).