Felix Hernandez had to fall back to earth sometime. The Seattle Mariners ace watched his streak of 16 starts with two or fewer runs over at least seven innings snapped on Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers, per SportsCenter:
Felix Hernandez's historic run is over. He exits after 5 IP vs Tigers, ending record stretch of 16 straight starts w/ 7 IP & 2 R or fewer.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 17, 2014
Hernandez exited after pitching five innings and giving up two runs on seven hits. By the time he left, the Mariners were down 2-1. The M's were never able to get the bats going against Tigers starter David Price, eventually losing 4-2.
Prior to the game, Fox Sports' Jon Morosi had Hernandez's thoughts on facing Price and the Tigers:
Felix Hernandez on his first-ever start vs. David Price: “Going to be a good one. But I’m not facing Price. I’m facing Miguel and Victor.”— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 15, 2014
According to The Associated Press, via ESPN.com, Hernandez was hit in the leg on a grounder by Ian Kinsler in the fourth inning. That likely contributed to his early exit.
King Felix suffered his first-ever loss at the hands of the Tigers. He entered Saturday night 9-0 in 11 starts against Detroit, per STATS:
No matter the result of the game, his road winless streak has extended to six starts. He's one loss or no-decision away from tying 2010's stretch of futility, per STATS:
Despite 1.25 ERA in last 5 road starts, #Mariners' Hernandez is 0-1 - longest road winless streak since 7 in a row in 2010 Cy Young season— STATS (@STATS_MLB) August 16, 2014
Most starting pitchers wouldn't be too upset having gone five innings and surrendered two runs. For Hernandez, it's an off night.
The 28-year-old right-hander has been one of the best players in baseball this season. According to FanGraphs, his 6.2 WAR is higher than any other pitcher, or batter, for that matter. Hernandez already has one hand on his second American League Cy Young Award.
Some are thinking even bigger and making the argument that Hernandez should be in the Most Valuable Player discussion. Justin Verlander was the last pitcher to earn the honor, taking home the AL MVP in 2011.
Grantland's Jonah Keri is part of the group who believes Hernandez deserves consideration, along with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw:
Both pitchers are enjoying transcendent seasons, both have solid MVP arguments thanks to world-beating streaks and seasons, and both have candidacies that benefit from WAR, an increasingly relied-upon stat. There are also plenty of arguments against both, from possibly unfair biases against pitchers to very reasonable cases for other great candidates, plus questions about the stats we can and should use to argue player value. And that’s all before factoring in some voters’ claim that an MVP must come from a playoff team, as if players have some magical ability to choose their teammates.
But if nothing else, let’s at least insert the two best pitchers on earth into the discussion for this year’s MVP awards. As soon as the season ends and the numbers are in, we can debate this all over again.
Hernandez will look to begin another historic streak in his next start, which is scheduled for Aug. 22 on the road against the Boston Red Sox.