Felix Hernandez didn’t seem any worse for wear on Saturday night after his start against the Los Angeles Angels was pushed back a day because of the flu.
The Seattle Mariners’ ace cruised through five innings with a two-hitter and a 2-1 lead, but he made a game-changing pitch to Mike Trout, and the 2014 AL MVP drove the 1-0 offering over the trees in center field to help the Angels send their AL West rivals to a 4-2 defeat.
“I think we know what to expect out of Felix, even coming back from being sick yesterday,” manager Scott Servais said. “He was sharp all night. You could tell when he walked in here today that he was ready to go and ready to compete and give us a great effort, which he did. He just made a mistake to a very good player, and Trout made him pay for it.”
Trout has had his share of success and failure against Hernandez. He began the day with a .354 career average against the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner – the highest by any player with at least 50 at-bats against Hernandez
Trout also has struck out 21 times against Hernandez, tying him for the second-highest total by any player behind Torii Hunter’s 22 strikeouts.
“It’s a battle each and every time,” Trout said after his fifth career homer against Hernandez. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league and he’s really dominant. When he’s got his stuff working, he’s hard to hit. I was just trying to get a pitch I could hit – looking fastball, obviously. And I got one.”
Nelson Cruz put Seattle ahead 2-1 in the top of the sixth with his second homer in two nights before Trout responded in kind with his third of the season.
Cliff Pennington also homered against Hernandez, who allowed three runs and five hits through seven innings with four strikeouts and two walks. The right-hander fanned Ortega in the first inning for his 2,163rd career strikeout, breaking Randy Johnson’s franchise record.
For good measure, Trout threw out pinch-hitter Adam Lind in the seventh when he tried to stretch his hit over the center fielder’s head into a double.
“It’s hard to pull off the gas when you’re thinking double coming out of the box,” Servais said. “The ball was hit over the center fielder’s head, but it caromed right back to Trout and he made a very accurate throw right on the base.”
Hector Santiago (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits over six innings and struck out seven. The left-hander is 4-0 over his last 10 starts – all of which the Angels have won.
Franklin Gutierrez, who singled home the go-ahead run as a pinch-hitter in Friday night’s win, led off the second with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by No. 9 hitter Leonys Martin.
Pennington tied it in the third, driving Hernandez’s first pitch of the inning into the lower seats in the right field corner for his first home run in an Angels uniform. It was just his second RBI in 43 career at-bats against Hernandez to that point.
Huston Street got three outs for his fifth save in five chances.
Mariners: Hernandez was 7-2 with a 1.37 ERA in his previous 14 starts against the Angels, but his career record against them is only 14-15. … Switch-hitting SS Ketel Marte doubled in the first inning for his first extra-base hit of the season. It came in his 53rd at-bat. … The Mariners have had three bases-loaded sac flies in this series so far, the others coming in the first inning Friday against Nick Tropeano.
Mariners: LHP Wade Miley (0-2, 8:04 ERA) has made two career starts against the Angels, both last season with Boston. He beat them 6-1 in the first one, allowing one run over eight innings. In the second one, he pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in a duel with C.J. Wilson and settled for a no-decision as the Red Sox lost 1-0 on Trout’s ninth-inning homer.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (1-2) has a 1.74 ERA with eight home runs allowed in his 24 big league victories, compared to an 8.20 ERA with 25 homers allowed in his 16 losses.