Felix Hernandez allows only one hit as Mariners win 7-0
Hernandez throws eight innings of one-hit ball for his third win of the season as Seattle blanks visiting Minnesota at Safeco Field.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Minnesota @ Mariners, 1:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Getting their staff ace to shut down one of the worst offenses in baseball wasn't the key to the Mariners finally snapping their losing streak at seven games.
Felix Hernandez barely broke a sweat over eight innings Saturday night, while his veteran mound opponent could barely find the strike zone at the best of times. And yet, what became a 7-0 win for the Mariners wasn't really decided until Kyle Seager finally helped Seattle do something with runners on base during what was then a scoreless game in the sixth.
Seager's two-run, two-out single opened the offensive floodgates for the Mariners and helped ensure the one-hit ball tossed by Hernandez did not go to waste. Steve Delabar finished off the ninth to give the Mariners their third combined one-hitter in club history, joining 10 others tossed individually by starting pitchers alone.
"Any time you've got Felix on the mound, you feel like you've got a good opportunity," Seager said. "Our pitching has been great as of late, for sure. We've just got to score more runs. Today, fortunately, we were able to get a few across for him."
Seager got across more than a few all by himself, cashing in a pair with his single off Twins starter Jason Marquis. Then, in the seventh, with three more runs already across that frame, Seager capped his night with a first-pitch homer into the right-field seats off onetime Mariners reliever Jeff Gray.
That provided a rare cruise to the finish for Hernandez in front of 28,437 fans at Safeco Field. He struck out nine batters while walking just two over his eight innings before being lifted with a pitch count at 107 and a huge lead.
Hernandez has gone at least seven innings in his last five starts while allowing no more than two runs in any. But things haven't always ended this well, as witnessed Monday when his eight frames of one-run ball went for naught in a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay in 12 innings.
So, Hernandez was pretty thrilled after Ichiro blew open a close game in the seventh with a two-run triple that made it 5-0 before Seager went deep.
"Awesome, awesome, awesome!" Hernandez said in the clubhouse afterward. "That's how we win."
For the first five innings, the Mariners had given a showcase to how they had lost seven straight. Marquis had somehow entered with a 2-0 record despite a 6.23 earned-run average and appeared to be toppling off the mound after some deliveries that sailed well wide of the catcher's target.
Marquis walked six batters, but used three double-play grounders to escape early trouble and keep things scoreless. Hernandez had seen this act before and knew he needed to keep things close against a Minnesota offense that has scored in just one inning out of its past 36.
It looked like the Twins might finally score in a second inning during that span when Denard Span led off the fourth with a single to right off Hernandez. Two walks later, the bases were loaded with two out and Chris Parmelee up.
"That was a big time right there in that situation with the bases loaded," Hernandez said. "I fell behind 2-1 and then I just tried to throw a good sinker. And he popped it up."
That would be the last chance the Twins had, other than hoping Marquis could keep pulling off his Houdini act. He nearly did in the sixth until falling behind 2-0 to Seager with runners on second and third and two out.
"The way Marquis throws, he's got so much sink on his ball and he'd done a good job all night of inducing a lot of ground balls and double plays," Seager said. "We had an opportunity there with a guy in scoring position, and I was just looking for anything up."
Marquis threw him a fastball up in the zone, and the game was pretty much over after that.
"You put yourself in a position to put a good swing on a pitch that you can handle in your zone," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of how Seager worked the count and then lined the next Marquis offering. "I like the way that he sees the ball, whether it be against right-handers or left-handers.
"He gives himself a chance up there. He's still learning. You can see that with each and every day, as all of our guys are."
Wedge had seen his hitters squander scoring opportunities and well-pitched outings throughout the stretch of seven losses. Before Seager's single, 19 of the previous 28 runs scored by the Mariners had come from homers — an ominous sign for a team that doesn't go deep very often.
"As we break down each individual approach, you see a lot of guys headed in the right direction. It just hasn't translated into runs like we would have liked. But it will."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners
|He's the king, all right|
|Felix Hernandez has an 0.95 ERA in his past five starts after yielding a season-high eight hits and six earned runs against the Oakland A's on April 7.|
|April 13, Oakland||7||7||2||3||6||Loss||3.80|
|April 19, Cleveland||8||5||0||1||12||-||2.76|
|April 25, @ Detroit||7||4||1||3||2||Win||2.48|
|April 30, @ Tampa||8||5||1||4||9||-||2.23|
|May 5, Minnesota||8||1||0||2||9||Win||1.89|