Obviously, a great outing from Felix Hernandez. But was it a Cy Young type of outing?
“We got some tough games ahead of us,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “But if he pitches like he did today, he’s going to be an awfully strong candidate.”
Hernandez pitched eight shut-out innings allowing just four hits with eight strikeouts and three walks against an Angels team that came into the game leading the American League West in hitting and second in runs scored.
“I thought it was a dominating performance,” Wakamatsu said. “It was probably one of the tougher games he’s pitched, where I’ve seen him battle.”
It was a far cry from the last time Hernandez faced the Angels in Safeco on May 19th. On that night, he gave up 11 hits and six runs in 6 1/3 innings and having the Angels steal five bases on him. After that game Wakamatsu called him out saying: ” Felix wasn’t sharp. Sometimes you ask guys to step up, and I don’t think he stepped up today.”
But that wasn’t case on the Wednesday. Hernandez stepped up in a big way.
“That feels like a long time ago,” Hernandez said. “This was a different game today.”
It’s different in large part because Felix is a different pitcher. He’s just better, more focused, more polished, more like the pitcher he’s expected to be.
A big key to Hernandez getting the win was Bill Hall, who made a start at second base – the first time he’s played there since June of 2008. And he was solid. His first play in the first inning, he gloved a ball up the middle from Bobby Abreu and then threw him out from the seat of his pants. I am pretty confident in saying Jose Lopez doesn’t make that play. He simply doesn’t have the speed or athleticism or range that Hall does.
I thought Hall looked pretty comfortable defensively and he isn’t known for being the greatest glove.. Offensively, Hall had the RBI double to score Mike Sweeney in the seventh. And he later swiped third off of reliever Kevin Jepsen. On the attempt, Mike Napoli spiked his throw into the ground and Hall scampered home.
“Usually when those pitchers are behind in the count, they don’t want to look back at you,” Hall said. “I try to take advantage of them because I can get a nice running lead.”