SEATTLE – The numbers were tossed out immediately: 9-0 in his last nine decisions, 17th consecutive quality starts dating back to last season.
Felix Hernandez quickly stopped all the accolades from being recited.
“Why you tell me that?” Hernandez joked. “Don’t tell me that.”
Even on a night where King Felix wasn’t his best, Seattle’s ace was plenty good enough to keep Baltimore reeling.
Hernandez threw the eighth complete-game of his career, limiting Baltimore to a lone unearned run and getting enough offense from Jack Wilson’s bases-clearing double to give Seattle a 4-1 win on Wednesday night.
The three-game sweep completed a 7-2 opening homestand for Seattle, while Baltimore continued on its early downfall, dropping to 2-14.
It’s the worst start for the franchise since losing its first 21 games in 1988 to set a big league mark.
Hernandez (2-0) wasn’t as sharp or overpowering as he’s been, but Seattle’s young star was extremely efficient. He allowed nine singles, struck out six and didn’t walk a batter. When baserunners reached, Hernandez was helped by two key double plays in the early innings.
Hernandez’s performance capped a sterling series for Seattle’s starters. It began when Doug Fister took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Monday night’s victory. Jason Vargas followed on Tuesday by allowing just one run in seven innings.
“These guys have been unbelievable,” Hernandez said.
And now comes news that former American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee is set to make his Seattle debut on April 30 against Texas. Lee will make a rehab start Sunday at Triple-A Tacoma.
While it was all smiles for the surging Mariners, the Orioles were left to lament what’s next. Manager Dave Trembley popped off about his team’s effort before the game after having a closed-door meeting with his players. Trembley said he was done covering for those making mistakes.
Afterward his players were looking for answers.
“It’s not like we’ve played horrible and got our butts kicked every night,” said Baltimore starter Kevin Millwood, who threw a complete game in the loss. “We actually haven’t played that bad. We just haven’t been able to put a full game together. It looks really bad, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks.”
Wilson’s two-out hit was his fourth double in the last three games, and the three RBIs matched his season total entering the game.
While Wilson got the big blow, the hustle of Matt Tuiasosopo kept the inning alive. Tuiasosopo singled off Millwood (0-3) with two outs to load the bases as Jose Lopez was held at third base.
Rob Johnson, who had Seattle’s first hit off Millwood, chopped a grounder back up the middle that was cut off near the outfield grass by second baseman Justin Turner. Instead of trying a difficult throw across his body to get Johnson, Turner made an underhand flip to shortstop Cesar Izturis covering second.
Tuiasosopo hustled and slid his foot into the bag ahead of the ball, scoring Lopez and tying the game at 1. Wilson followed with a drive to deep right-center.
“That changed the whole game,” Wilson said. “The ball gets hit and you think they’re out of the inning and next thing you know (Tuiasosopo) makes a big play, gets everybody pumped up, gets me pumped up to go to the plate.”
Hernandez glided through the Orioles. He entered the ninth at just 94 pitches and rarely faced trouble. Baltimore put runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth, but Hernandez got Ty Wigginton to pop out, adding to Wigginton’s two double plays earlier.
Hernandez struck out six in his first complete game of the season. His last one was Sept. 18, 2009, a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees.
“It’s nice when you have your No. 1 pitcher do that, step up, and it constantly gives you that belief system for future games,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Mariners 4, Orioles 1
E—Wigginton (3), Figgins (2), Tuiasosopo (1). LOB—Baltimore 7, Seattle 6. 2B—J.Wilson (5). RBIs—Wieters (4), Ro.Johnson (3), J.Wilson 3 (6). SB—Ro.Johnson (1). RLISP—Baltimore 1 (Wigginton); Seattle 3 (Figgins, F.Gutierrez 2). GIDP—Wigginton 2, M.Sweeney. DP—Baltimore 1 (C.Izturis, Turner, Atkins); Seattle 2 (J.Wilson, Figgins, Kotchman), (Jo.Lopez, Figgins, Kotchman).
|Millwood L, 0-3||8||6||4||4||3||4||3.38|
|F.Hernandez W, 2-0||9||9||1||0||0||6||2.15|
IBB—off Millwood (I.Suzuki). HBP—by Millwood (J.Wilson). T—2:08. A—18,401 (47,878).
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