Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was in the zone Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 15 batters in his team's 5-0 shutout win at Tropicana Field.
As the team's official Twitter account points out, the pitcher made history in the seventh inning:
Felix strikes out the side in the 7th, and he becomes the 4th pitcher in #Mariners history to strike out 15 batters in a ballgame.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 8, 2014
The right-hander allowed just four hits in seven innings pitched. Hernandez, who threw 66 strikes in 100 pitches, didn't earn what would have been his sixth consecutive win, however. As ESPN Stats & Info tweeted, he joined a select group with the no-decision:
3 pitchers have struck out 15 or more, allowed no runs and gotten a no-decision in last 25 yrs- Nolan Ryan, Jake Peavy, Felix Hernandez— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2014
The Seattle Times' Ryan Divish notes the injustice:
Felix Hernandez strikes out 15, walks one and in seven shutout innings. Yoervis Medina vultures the win ... more W-L record irrelevance— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) June 8, 2014
Currently, only Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle and New York Yankees star Masahiro Tanaka have more wins than the 28-year-old, who is 8-1 on the season. However, no other big league pitcher has more strikeouts than Hernandez (106) this season.
It's also interesting that Hernandez's brilliant effort came against the Rays, the team he pitched a perfect game against back in August 2012, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Felix Hernandez with 12 strikeouts so far vs Rays. Last time Hernandez struck out 12 Rays in a game, he pitched a perfect game (2012)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2014
Although the Venezuelan still has a long way to go to turn in a career year on the mound, he appears poised to threaten his 2009 campaign, when he led the American League with 19 wins. With a 2.39 ERA, Hernandez is also still in the mix to finish the season with a career-best ERA. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2010 after finishing the year with a mark of 2.27.
Over-under 19.5 wins for Hernandez in 2014?
Following a stellar performance in his previous outing against the New York Yankees June 2, Hernandez talked about his success in 2014, per The Seattle Times' Brian Towey: "Everything (is working). My pitches have been working, my mechanics (are working), I’m more consistent, and we’re scoring a lot of runs."
The Mariners have to be encouraged by what they're getting from Hernandez through the first half of the season. However, the veteran pitcher will need some help from Seattle's offense if the club is going to catch up to the Oakland Athletics, who are 5.5 games ahead of the Mariners in the AL West division.
Seattle's bats were ice cold in Sunday's game against the Rays, and they can't afford to remain that way with the two teams the Mariners are currently chasing in the AL West, Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels, ranking first and third in the AL, respectively, in runs scored.
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