NEW YORK -- On Saturday night, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez gave up seven hits in eight shutout innings to lead Seattle to a 6-0 victory over the Angels. On Monday afternoon, he was all smiles at Citi Field, with his 4-year-old son Jeremy squirming on his lap, talking about his fourth trip to the Midsummer Classic.
"It doesn't get old," Hernandez said. "It's always exciting. Every All-Star Game is special. Just to be a part of something like this and be here with all of these stars is unbelievable."
However, because of how his schedule has played out, Hernandez has only pitched in one of the three previous All-Star Games for which he's been selected. In his first All-Star Game in 2009, Hernandez retired Orlando Hudson, Albert Pujols and Justin Upton with eight pitches in one perfect inning in St. Louis. He hopes to turn in a similar performance Tuesday night.
"I only threw a few pitches in St. Louis, so we'll have to see what happens here," Hernandez said. "[American League manager] Jim Leyland hasn't told me yet how he plans to use me, but I'm really looking forward to pitching."
Felix Hernandez's All-Star tattoos
Hernandez has three stars tattooed on his right forearm, each containing a year he played in the All-Star Game: 2009, 2011 and 2012. He plans to add 2013 soon and hopes to keep adding them in the future.
"I have a lot of space on my body," he said.
Fellow Mariner Hisashi Iwakuma was also sporting an ear-to-ear grin Monday afternoon. Though he has made three All-Star appearances in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, this is his first Major League All-Star Game. However, Iwakuma is in the same situation Hernandez has been in twice; he pitched Sunday, throwing 96 pitches in seven innings of a 4-3 win over the Angels, and is therefore not eligible to pitch in Tuesday's game. He was replaced on the available roster by Kansas City's Greg Holland.
In 2011, MLB rules precluded pitchers who threw on the final Sunday before the All-Star Game from participating. Last summer, the rules were changed to allow participation with managers' approval, but managers generally decide to err on the side of caution.
"It's very unfortunate not to be able to pitch because this is a very special event and this is my first experience with it," Iwakuma said through interpreter Anthony Suzuki. "We get to see all the best talent and not being able to go against the best hitters is unfortunate, but at the same time I want to take advantage and enjoy the atmosphere here and enjoy meeting all the other All-Stars."
Iwakuma, 32, has a 8-4 record in 20 starts with a 3.02 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). In 131 1/3 innings, he has 113 strikeouts and 19 walks.
In 20 first-half starts, Hernandez, 27, owns a 10-4 record and an American League-best 2.53 ERA. He has 140 strikeouts in 138 2/3 innings and has walked only 26.
Together, Hernandez and Iwakuma are a deadly one-two punch for a young Mariners team.
"They go out every time and give us a good start," said Mariners center fielder Dustin Ackley. "It's important especially during times of maybe not putting up a lot of runs and they come and pick you up. That's huge for a team. They've held down an awful lot of great-hitting teams and we've won that way. They've been huge for us."
The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Lindsay Berra is a reporter for MLB.com.