May 24, 2014 in Sports

Felix Hernandez goes eight strong innings in win over Astros

Tim Booth Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez had nine strikeouts on Friday, lifting his total to 21 over his last three starts.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE – Felix Hernandez wore an extra ice pack. They’re usually only wrapped around his shoulder, not his calf as well.

Despite getting a little physically beat up, Hernandez had no problem shutting down Houston.

Seattle’s ace struck out nine over eight strong innings for his third straight victory, Willie Bloomquist provided a jolt of offense with his first home run since 2011 and the Mariners beat the Astros 6-1 on Friday night.

“A little bruise. I’m fine,” Hernandez said. “He got me, he got me pretty good.”

An extra bruise on Hernandez’s left calf was the only downside to Seattle’s fourth win in five games that has the Mariners back above the .500 mark.

Hernandez (6-1) allowed only five hits and continued a strong last two weeks on the mound. After going more than a month between victories, Hernandez has rediscovered his form. He has struck out 21 and walked just two over his last three starts. Four of his nine strikeouts against the Astros were looking, a sign that he had command off his fastball.

“Everything was working,” Hernandez said. “I was throwing a lot of strikes. The game plan was just to throw strikes and use a lot of fastballs.”

Bloomquist drove in three runs, but the highlight was his two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole in the sixth. It was his first long ball since Aug. 10, 2011, when Bloomquist was playing for Arizona, a span of 626 at-bats. Bloomquist’s homer came on the first pitch after Mike Zunino had doubled off the top of the wall, missing a homer by inches.

Bloomquist rounded the bases with a wry smile on his face and appeared to be catching plenty of grief in the dugout for the long lapse between homers. His last homer also came against Houston – when the Astros were still a National League team.

“Don’t even go there,” Bloomquist laughed when asked about his last homer. “I don’t want to remember, let’s put it that way. Had a lot of ground-rule doubles in the meantime. I know it’s been a while. That’s not my swing, but I’ll take them when they come if they ever come.”

Kyle Seager also drove in three runs with a two-run single in the first and a broken-bat blooper in the seventh. Robinson Cano also had two hits, raising his batting average to .326.

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