In position to win four straight starts for the first time in almost three years, Hernandez looks to overcome his struggles versus Los Angeles and help the Seattle Mariners avoid a seventh consecutive home loss to the Angels on Saturday.
Hernandez (13-5, 2.43 ERA) has allowed one run, 12 hits and struck out 22 over 25 2-3 innings while winning his last three starts. That run began Aug. 15 when he pitched a perfect game against Tampa Bay and continued when he tossed a five-hitter in a 1-0 win at Minnesota on Monday.
The right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 17 walks in 14 starts since losing to San Diego on June 12."He's the real deal. That's why he's King Felix," teammate Eric Thames said. "That's why he's got the Cy Young , the perfect game, all that stuff."
If Hernandez keeps it up, he could receive serious consideration for his second Cy Young Award in three seasons."I've been consistent the last two months," said Hernandez, who has not won four straight starts since a five-game run Sept. 13-Oct. 4, 2009. "I've been trying to throw strikes, been trying to get ahead of every hitter and mix all my pitches."
That has not always been easy for Hernandez to do while going 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts versus Los Angeles (70-62) this year. He gave up five runs in seven innings of a 6-5 loss at Anaheim on Aug. 10. On May 26, he allowed five runs on homers to Albert Pujols and Alberto Callaspo in a 5-3 defeat that dropped him to 4-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 13 starts against the Angels at Safeco Field.
Kendrys Morales , batting .333 (13 for 39) with four doubles and a homer versus Hernandez, hit a first-inning three-run homer and had four RBIs to help Los Angeles snap Seattle's eight-game home winning streak with a 9-1 victory Friday. The Angels have outscored the Mariners (64-69) 31-13 during a six-game winning streak at Safeco.
Winners in four straight and eight of 10 overall, Los Angeles is 3 1/2 games out of the final AL wild-card spot.
"We think about today, then think about tomorrow," said infielder Erick Aybar , who had two hits in the opener. "We just try to stay together."
With four hits Friday, center fielder Torii Hunter is 10 for 13 in the last three games after going hitless in 12 at-bats over his previous four. He's 8 for 13 in his last three versus Seattle."Cut my swing down, make sure I get on base for Albert Pujols ," Hunter said.
Scheduled Angels starter Ervin Santana (7-11, 5.45), however, is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this year. He gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of the Aug. 10 loss to Hernandez.
The right-hander allowed four runs in seven innings of a 5-2 loss at Detroit on Sunday after going 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in his previous five outings.
John Jaso , who drove in Seattle's lone run Friday, is 7 for 11 with a homer against Santana.
The Mariners have lost twice in 17 home games.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 30, 2012||Howie Kendrick||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right knee|
|August 22, 2012||Albert Pujols||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf tightness|
|August 19, 2012||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|August 13, 2012||C.J. Wilson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left hand|
|July 30, 2012||Mark Trumbo||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|July 30, 2012||Dan Haren||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 31, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained groin|
|August 25, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Sore groin|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Hip injury|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 06, 2012||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Beating Felix Hernandez might be the satisfying win that propels the Angels to make a September run for a wild-card spot.
Mark Trumbo hit a two-run single in the eighth inning Saturday that helped hand Hernandez his first loss in nearly three months and Los Angeles won its fifth straight, 5-2 over the Seattle Mariners .
"That's a big statement on how we keep grinding it out," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We beat a terrific pitcher this afternoon. He had been pitching as well as anyone in baseball for a while."
Hernandez (13-6) lost for the first time since June 12. He entered this outing 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his previous 14 starts, including a perfect game.
Trout and Torii Hunter singled to open the eighth. Albert Pujols then hit a one-hopper to third baseman Kyle Seager , who couldn't corral it down for an error. That allowed Trout to score, tying the game at 2, while Hunter and Pujols each moved into scoring position.
"I saw him going and it's a contact play," Seager said. "Trout runs well but if I catch that ball and make a good throw, he'd have been out pretty easily. It's just a play where I got in-between hops and wasn't able to make the play. I should have definitely made it."
Kendrys Morales bounced out, and Trumbo then sent a hit through the left side as both runners scored easily.
The three-run rally continued against reliever Stephen Pryor as Howie Kendrick delivered a RBI single.
"They cracked the door open for us a little bit. I thought we had some good at-bats, some key hits, put some guys in motion. We were getting after it," Scioscia said. "Felix is tough. He does special things with the baseball. He changes speed. He's got stuff. He competes. We did a terrific job against a great pitcher."
Hernandez, who was beyond 110 pitches when things fell apart, said, "I felt good. I felt the same. I was throwing the ball pretty good until the eighth. I feel strong."
King Felix gave up five runs - four earned - in 7 1-3 innings. He yielded nine hits, walked two and struck out seven.
In three starts against the Angels, Hernandez is 0-2. He has allowed 15 runs and 24 hits for a 5.75 ERA. His ERA against the rest of baseball: 2.16.
Ervin Santana (8-11) went seven innings. He gave up two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out two.
Ernesto Frieri worked the ninth to pick up his 17th save in 19 opportunities.
"The fact is Ervin really, pitch for pitch, was right with Felix," Scioscia said. "There weren't many mistakes that Ervin had in this game."
The Angels scored first, on Pujols' RBI double in the first inning.
Trayvon Robinson tied it with his second home run, in the third. Franklin Gutierrez gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring double in the third.
"He's one of the toughest pitchers in the league. We both do a good job," Santana said. "If both pitchers pitching good then we're just waiting for one mistake."
Trumbo found it.
"My whole thing is be present when I need to be," said Trumbo, who was hitting just .202 in August and just came out of a 0-for-16 skid. "I found myself in a situation with a couple runners out there. I was able to clean up and able to drive them in.
"I don't worry about yesterday. I don't worry about tomorrow," Trumbo said. "I need to be where I need to be and allow my ability to come out instead of trying force it."
NOTES: The Angels added four players to the roster. Left-handers Nick Maronde and Andrew Taylor had their contracts purchased from the minors while C John Hester and INF Andrew Romine were recalled. "That depth is something that can help you," Scioscia said. ... Seattle also added a pair, OF Carlos Peguero and RHP Erasmo Ramirez . The club intends to bring up more players but will wait until after the minor league season ends Monday. OF Michael Saunders sat out after tweaking his right hamstring Friday. It came after he missed six games with the same injury. "I don't think it's any setback whatsoever," Saunders said. He expected to be back in the lineup in a couple days. Manager Eric Wedge added, "Sometimes you just don't know till you get out there at game speed." This was the first of three straight home day games for the Mariners, the first time that has happened since Sept. 4-6, 1999, against Boston.