Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez managed to keep his winless stretch brief, but his previous start probably seemed all too familiar.
The Mariners’ struggling hitters are once again not giving the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner much support, and Hernandez might need another stellar outing if he wants to add to his recent dominance of the surging Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
Hernandez (2-2, 3.38 ERA) managed to win his first Cy Young in 2010 despite going just 13-12. Much of the blame for his mediocre record was an AL-worst 3.10 runs of support per nine innings.
With an .226 average this season that ranks among the worst in the majors, the Mariners (8-15) are providing the right-hander with 2.60 runs per nine innings. They’ve given him a combined one run in his last three starts.
Hernandez, though, didn’t help himself by giving up seven runs to Toronto on April 11 and five to Kansas City on April 16 – but only two of those were earned.
He bounced back from that stretch Thursday against Oakland by scattering four hits over 7 2-3 innings and striking out eight. Hernandez earned the 1-0 win thanks to Adam Kennedy’s solo home run.
“I just put it in my mind to pitch the way I know how to pitch,” Hernandez told the Mariners’ website. “That’s what I was doing. … Everything was on the corners and my breaking pitches were good. That’s all I can do. Throw strikes.”
The victory was one of only four for the Mariners over the past 12 games. They are facing a Tigers team that’s won nine of 12 and coming off a three-game home sweep of Chicago, outscoring the White Sox 21-3.
Hernandez will try to stop that roll by earning a seventh consecutive win over the Tigers (12-10). He has a 1.87 ERA in his last five matchups and given up one run over seven innings in each of his last two games at Comerica.
During last season’s lone matchup in Seattle, Hernandez allowed two runs over 6 2-3 innings during an 11-3 victory.
Opposing him will be Phil Coke (1-3, 2.75), who also hasn’t received much help from his teammates in his three starts this season.
The Tigers are batting .256 and have averaged 4.5 runs, but have provided their left-hander an average of 2.08 runs in those three outings.
After throwing seven scoreless innings in his previous start, Coke didn’t make it out of the fourth inning during a 13-3 loss in Seattle on Tuesday. That was the only Tigers loss during the three-game series at Safeco Field and in the past six games.
Coke gave up six runs – two earned – and his four walks matched a career high. He also committed one of Detroit’s two errors in that game.
“It’s baseball, man,” Coke told the Tigers’ website. “It’s one thing after another. You never know what kind of hand you’re going to be dealt on any given day. Hopefully, this is the worst one I’ll have on the season, and I can put it behind me and not worry about it and go out there and get it done next time.”
Detroit won two of three over Seattle at Comerica last season.
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