TORONTO – Trying to hit a pitcher with stuff like Felix Hernandez is hard. Trying to catch him isn’t too easy, either.
Hernandez pitched eight shutout innings to win his third straight start, Kyle Seager and Jason Bay homered and the Seattle Mariners blanked the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 on Friday night.
Mariners catcher Jesus Montero was the target of some playful teasing from Hernandez and his teammates after he dropped several late-breaking pitches.
“Sometimes it’s hard to catch him,” Montero said. “It’s crazy, his talent is so great.”
Montero said there aren’t many pitches in Hernandez’s arsenal that are easy to handle.
“They’re all tough, but the special one is the changeup,” Montero said. “It goes down like a split. That’s why he strikes out so many guys.”
Hernandez (4-2) allowed five hits, walked none and struck out seven, improving to 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA in his past four starts.
“I’ve been aggressive, I’ve been throwing a lot of strikes and that’s the key for me,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez is 95-24 in his career when he receives two or more runs of support.
“He’s special,” Seager said. “He goes about his business. You give him a couple of runs and you know he’s going to take care of the rest.”
Seager had three hits in helping the Mariners win for the sixth time in eight games.
“He’s been very consistent,” manager Eric Wedge said of Seager. “He does a lot of things right.”
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth for the Mariners, who had lost seven of their previous eight road games.
Hernandez came in 3-4 with a 5.13 ERA in nine career starts against the Blue Jays, easily his highest ERA against any opponent he’s faced more than once, and had allowed seven runs in his previous two meetings with Toronto. But the right-hander was dominant in this one, allowing just two hits, an infield chopper and a bloop single, through the first six innings.
“We ran into Felix there,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s not going to give you anything when he’s on.”
Adam Lind doubled to begin the eighth and went to third on Colby Rasmus’ single. But Rasmus was doubled off first when Maicer Izturis lined out and Munenori Kawasaki grounded out.
Shut out for the third time this season, the struggling Blue Jays lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell a season-high 10 games below .500.
Making his first start of the season, Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero (0-1) allowed three runs and three hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out four.
Romero looked sharp early against Seattle. He faced the minimum through the first three innings, striking out three and throwing just 33 pitches.
He struggled in the fourth, however, as the Mariners batted around and scored three runs on two hits and three walks.
Michael Saunders walked to begin the fourth and Seager crushed the next pitch into the second deck in right, his fourth homer of the season.
Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch and advanced on a wild pitch.
Michael Morse struck out looking, but walks to Bay and Justin Smoak loaded the bases for Dustin Ackley, who grounded an RBI single through the right side.
Bay hit an opposite field shot to right off Aaron Loup in the sixth, his third.
“That’s a great sign when you see a right-hander drive the ball the other way like he did,” Wedge said.
Daren Brown joined the Mariners to serve as third base coach in place of Jeff Datz, who is battling cancer. Brown had been managing Triple-A Tacoma. Minor league catching coordinator John Stearns, who’d been filling in for Datz, will replace Brown at Tacoma.