Hernandez dominant in shutting out Yankees
After Felix Hernandez completed a two-hit, 1-0 masterpiece at Yankee Stadium, manager Eric Wedge was in a raving mood.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle @ N.Y. Yankees, 10:05 a.m., ROOT Sports
NEW YORK — Felix Hernandez has such an impressive, and expansive, body of work that it takes some doing for one particular start to stand above the rest.
But after Hernandez had struck out the Yankees' Robinson Cano on Saturday to complete a two-hit, 1-0 masterpiece at Yankee Stadium, then kissed tattoos on each wrist with the names of his two children and gestured skyward, manager Eric Wedge was in a raving mood.
"That was special stuff today," Wedge said. "I told him, that's probably the most impressive start I've ever seen as a manager. And I've seen a lot of good and great pitchers pitch over the years."
"This ballpark, that lineup, the swings and misses, the mis-hits, with so many good hitters over there, the efficiency in which he did it, in a 1-0 ballgame — it doesn't get much better than that."
After Mike Carp's clutch two-out single off Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda in the second inning brought home John Jaso from third with the game's only run, Hernandez had to hang on for dear life.
The Mariners didn't do him any favors by squandering several additional scoring opportunities, but the tightness of the game only accentuated Hernandez's brilliance. It was his fourth career two-hitter (and second against the Yankees in New York; only two other pitchers since 1920 have two shutouts of two hits or fewer at Yankee Stadium) to go with a one-hitter against Boston on April 11, 2007.
It was Hernandez's third shutout in his past eight starts since June 28. He is 6-0 with a 1.60 earned-run average in his past 10 starts, raising his overall marks to 10-5, 2.63 and thrusting himself into the Cy Young race.
"That was awesome," Hernandez said. "From the beginning, it was a great game. Kuroda threw a great game. Jaso called an unbelievable game. I shook him off about four times the whole day."
Was it his best ever?
"I don't know. There's been a lot of games, so I don't know. Probably. It was a good game, but I don't think it was one of the best."
That was the only time all day Hernandez was indecisive as he struck out six, walked two and allowed just one runner as far as second base — Cano on a two-out double in the first inning. He immediately got out of that by getting Mark Teixeira to pop out.
"We got one shot today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Usually, you get more than one. That's how good he was."
The praise was flying fast and furious in both clubhouses. Jaso said it was the best game he's caught from Hernandez because of the command of all his pitches.
"His past few starts, at least when I was catching him, it was his fastball that was getting guys out, and we were just dumping soft stuff in there for strike one, and going right to the fastball," Jaso said. "Today, it was his slider, changeup and fastball that were getting guys out with two strikes."
Hernandez's changeup — a fiendish pitch that comes in at about 89 mph with late movement — drew special attention from Brendan Ryan, nursing a sore elbow from a seventh-inning plunking by Kuroda.
"Unbelievable. That changeup is not a changeup. I don't understand why it keeps getting called one. It's like a fast splitter. How do you get that much action and it's two or three miles per hour softer?
"To just go through that lineup in this stadium, with the quality hitters they have, even on a Felix day, you still figure there'll be some better swings. There were a couple balls hit hard, but that was outstanding."
Ryan's definition of "a Felix day" is this: "Frustrated at-bats, confusion, guys maybe guessing on pitches, predetermined swings and takes. No good at-bats connected, I want to say. Every at-bat was its own challenge. I think he could have gone 15 innings."
OK, one more time, Felix: Was this one of your favorite games ever?
"Yeah, but I've thrown a couple good games," he said. "Maybe."
Wedge was more emphatic.
"It doesn't get any better than that. What you saw today, you're not going to find any better."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry