Mariners ace topped Yanks and struck out career-high 15 Rays to net honor
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was named American League Player of the Week on Monday after striking out 23 batters with just one walk in a pair of Seattle victories over the Yankees and Rays.
Hernandez was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his two starts as he earned the second AL Player of the Week honors in his career.
Though Hernandez got a no-decision in Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Rays, he struck out a career-high 15 while allowing just four hits in seven scoreless frames.
Hernandez also dominated the Yankees last Monday in New York with seven innings of two-run ball in a 10-2 victory. Hernandez allowed eight hits in that game, but he didn't walk a batter and struck out eight.
The 28-year-old is off to the best start of his 10-year career with an 8-1 record and a 2.39 ERA.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Hernandez was even more impressive in Sunday's win than in his perfect game against Tampa Bay on Aug. 15, 2012, in Seattle, after which he won his first AL Player of the Week Award.
"I think he was even better than the perfect-game stuff," said Maddon. "His changeup, it was a fastball until the last second and then it became a changeup. He was really good. His command was outstanding."
Hernandez has been feeding off improved velocity in his last three or four starts as his fastball has climbed back up to 93-94 mph, which makes his trademark changeup all the more imposing.
"Everything [was working]," Hernandez said after Sunday's game. "Everything. I was throwing a lot of strikes. My changeup was unbelievable and the slider was really good, too. I was getting ahead early and that was it. It's fun when you've got all that stuff. It's fun to go out there and just throw every pitch and know it's going to be for strikes."
Hernandez is the second Seattle player to be named AL Player of the Week this season. Third baseman Kyle Seager shared the honors for the week of April 21-27.