The same cannot be said of right-hander Josh Johnson , who could be pitching for his spot in the rotation Tuesday night when the Toronto Blue Jays go for their first three-game winning streak in seven weeks.
Hernandez (11-4, 2.30 ERA) was in line for the victory Thursday at Boston after throwing seven innings of one-run ball, but the Mariners' bullpen surrendered seven runs in the final two frames of the 8-7 defeat.
"That's a really tough loss for us because of how Felix was pitching and we couldn't get it done," losing pitcher Oliver Perez told the Mariners' official website.
Hernandez, though, continues to get the job done. The AL ERA leader has given up two total runs in his last four outings and hasn't allowed more than two in any of his last seven. Hernandez's 1.41 ERA during that stretch is second only to New York Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda 's 1.38.
Hernandez had one of his most dominant starts of the season against Toronto (52-60), striking out seven in eight innings of a 4-0 road win May 3.
However, he's 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in two career home starts in this matchup, yielding seven runs each time.
That sounds like Johnson's most recent outing. The first-year Blue Jay has a 14.06 ERA in his last four starts after getting tagged for a season-high 10 hits in 2 1-3 innings of Thursday's 8-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels ."It's frustration. That's it," Johnson said after losing a career-worst sixth consecutive start. "I'm out there trying to battle, trying to get through it and trying to stay positive. You've got to find a way. I'll come back and watch some video and do whatever I can to get back."
Manager John Gibbons is sticking with the former NL ERA leader for now, saying that Johnson, "works as hard as anybody" and that "he's one of those guys you root for," but general manager Alex Anthopoulos needs to start seeing positive results.
"We have to look at alternatives at some point if this continues, it's really start-to-start at this point, it's really the only way to characterize it," Anthopoulos told the Blue Jays' official website. "Right now, he's going to make one more start and we'll see how he does but we'll continue to evaluate it each time."
Another big night from British Columbia native Brett Lawrie could help out Johnson in his first start against Seattle. Lawrie, a homer shy of the cycle in Monday's 3-1 victory, is batting .414 (12 for 29) while hitting safely in each of the first eight games on a trip that ends Wednesday.
This three-game set feels more like a home series for the Blue Jays with plenty of fans making the short trip from Canada to Safeco Field.
"Obviously, it's a positive when the whole crowd is cheering for your team," Lawrie said. "It's usually the other team. They picked us up tonight."
The Blue Jays, who snapped a three-game skid at Seattle (52-60) in the opener, last strung together three straight wins during a franchise record-tying 11-game run June 11-23.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|August 03, 2013||Steve Delabar||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 02, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee strain|
|July 30, 2013||Dustin McGowan||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 28, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 28, 2013||Melky Cabrera||15-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 03, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Josh Johnson believed the mechanical changes he was attempting to make would finally lead to a successful outing and an end to his lengthy losing streak for the Toronto right-hander.
Walking out to the mound with a 1-0 lead thanks to Jose Reyes taking Felix Hernandez deep certainly helped.
"It awesome. You have to be almost perfect most of the time with him out there," Johnson said. "Offense did an awesome job."
Reyes homered on the first pitch of the game, added an RBI single to cap Toronto's big fourth inning, and the Blue Jays handed Seattle ace Felix Hernandez his first loss since late May with a 7-2 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays battered Hernandez (11-5) and knocked him out after just five innings, matching his shortest start of the season.
A leading contender for a second AL Cy Young Award, Hernandez got no help from his defense that committed three errors that led to three unearned runs while he was on the mound.
"It was a struggle. A lot of it was I fell behind," Hernandez said. "A leadoff homer; that was a tough game."
While Hernandez was struggling, Johnson was throwing one of his best games of the season with his potential spot in the rotation at stake. Johnson threw five scoreless innings and won for the first time since June 23, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Toronto manager John Gibbons pulled Johnson after only 86 pitches, but wanted to make sure he left with his confidence high.
"He maybe had one more left in him, but I figured instead of having to bail him out maybe that next inning, for all that he's been through, let him finish with five good, strong ones," Gibbons said. "... A lot of that was let him go out on a clean slate and feel good."
Reyes brought the huge contingent of Blue Jays' fans to their feet from the start. He lined Hernandez's first fastball of the night 399 feet into the seats in right for his eighth homer of the season. It was Reyes' 18th career leadoff homer and first this season.
For Hernandez, it was just the second leadoff homer allowed in his career and a precursor to a tough night.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game," Reyes said. "I had that approach before the game I was looking for a fastball right in the middle the first pitch and I try to put my best swing and that's what happened."
Toronto scored three times in the fourth helped by two Seattle errors. Emilio Bonifacio had the big hit with a two-out double into the gap in right-center field.
Bonifacio's hit came after three defensive breakdowns by Seattle: Kyle Seager committed his second error of the night, shortstop Brad Miller threw wildly to second trying to start a double play and Miller failed to hold the ball when tagging Brett Lawrie on a stolen base.
Reyes followed Bonifacio with an RBI single to cap the big inning. Toronto then scored twice more in the fifth when Colby Rasmus dropped an RBI single on a two-out, 0-2 pitch from Hernandez. That was followed by Lawrie's RBI single and a 6-0 lead.
Seattle's ugly night defensively was capped in the seventh when Raul Ibanez committed the Mariners' fourth error spiking an attempted throw from left field into the ground just a few feet in front of him and allowing Jose Bautista to score Toronto's seventh run.
Toronto's offensive output made it an easy night for Johnson, who in his previous four starts had an ERA of 14.06, but was masterful against the Mariners.
It was the second time this season Johnson didn't allow a run and a key for him was getting out of the first when Seattle had runners on the corners and one out. Johnson got Kendrys Morales to ground into a double play and Seattle never got a runner to third base until the seventh on Miller's two-run triple.
Johnson said his focus was staying more on top of his pitches, which helped keep the ball down in the strike zone.
"It was just a small little adjustment I made and it made a world of difference," Johnson said.
Notes: Rasmus made a highlight catch robbing Morales of a potential home run in the sixth inning pulling in a deep drive to center field. ... Seattle optioned closer Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday in the hopes he can rediscover the command of his fastball. Seattle recalled reliever Carter Capps to take Wilhelmsen's spot. Seattle also released OF Jason Bay , who was designated for assignment on July 29. ... Texas' Ian Kinsler is the only other batter to hit a leadoff homer off Hernandez. ... The four errors by Seattle were its most since committing six vs. the Angels in September 2011.