ARLINGTON, Texas – Felix Hernandez vows this wasn’t the end of his brilliant run at a Cy Young Award.
Moments after holding the Texas Rangers to one run over eight innings in a 3-1 win Tuesday night, Hernandez said he would be back out there again for Sunday’s season finale against Oakland. His team wants to limit his innings totals and is thinking about shutting him down now, but Hernandez was having nothing to do with that talk.
“Definitely, I want to start one more game,” he said. “Oh, yeah.”
Hernandez was asked whether he understood the team’s reasoning of wanting to limit his innings totals, now at 249 2/3 to go with the 238 frames he threw last season.
“That’s not enough,” he replied. “In this season, I’ve got one more start.”
Hernandez later added: “If they say, ‘No more,’ I’m going to go out there Sunday. I’m going to get ready and I’m going to go on the mound.”
Strong stuff indeed from a pitcher who could have a lot to gain statistically by heading out one more time.
But he could also have plenty to lose.
The 111-pitch outing, in front of 26,043 fans at Rangers Ballpark, put Hernandez back in the A.L. strikeout lead by three over Jered Weaver of the Angels. It also lowered Hernandez’s major-league-best earned-run average to 2.27 – increasing his lead over the 2.33 of Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox.
But Weaver will likely pass Hernandez’s strikeout total again in his next outing, while Buchholz could tie his ERA with five shutout innings and pass it with a sixth scoreless frame against the Yankees on Saturday. Hernandez does not have the win totals of other Cy Young front-runners, so claiming the innings, ERA and strikeout crowns would go a long way toward bolstering his claim.
Still, heading back to the mound Sunday could have its drawbacks, even if a few more scoreless innings is all he’d need to claim the aforementioned categories.
“It’s something that we’ll look at, and it won’t be me sitting here deciding 20 minutes after the game,” Mariners manager Daren Brown said.
Brown was asked whether the team avoiding a 100-loss season would play into any decision on giving Hernandez another start. The Mariners have won three in a row for the first time in over a month and must go 2-3 over their final five contests to avoid 100 losses.
“Felix is important to the organization,” Brown said. “He’s important to us to win ballgames. Not to keep us from losing ballgames.”
Zduriencik will be back
Jack Zduriencik will return in 2011 as the Mariners’ general manager, team president Chuck Armstrong confirmed.
Elaborating on a report by FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Armstrong said, “He’s going to be back. We’re not even contemplating changing general managers. Jack Zduriencik is our general manager. In Jack we trust.”
Zduriencik’s future had become the subject of speculation in light of the Mariners’ disastrous record and the controversy surrounding the acquisition of Josh Lueke in the Cliff Lee trade.