Mariners' ace turns in scoreless inning in start; Rodney preserves lead
MINNEAPOLIS -- Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez was given the honor of being the starting pitcher for the American League in Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
He didn't disappoint his teammates or fans, even though he didn't work up a sweat. Hernandez gave up a game-opening infield single to Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, and wild pitched him to second base. But after back-to-back strikeouts of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, McCutchen stealing third as Tulowitzki struck out, Hernandez induced a groundout from D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the National League DH.
And that was it, which Hernandez admitted was a bit strange.
"I wanted to throw a second inning," said Hernandez. "But one was enough."
Hernandez was one of four Mariners on the AL team, which earned a 5-3 win at Target Field.
Second baseman Robinson Cano, who spent his first nine big league season with the Yankees, teaming with Derek Jeter as the double-play combo, started at second base for the AL, striking out in both of his at-bats.
"It's a great feeling to be on the same team as Derek in his last All-Star Game," said Cano, an All-Star for the sixth time, including each of the last five.
Cano, however, said that even though Jeter is 40, he looked good.
"If I were him, I wouldn't retire this year," Cano said. "I would have played another year."
Third baseman Kyle Seager made his All-Star debut in the sixth inning, grounding out while pinch-hitting for Orioles DH Nelson Cruz.
"It was such an amazing experience," said Seager, an All-Star for the first time in his third full big league season. "I was really blessed to be able to be part of this."
Mariners closer Fernando Rodney, who leads the AL with 27 saves, got the call with two outs in the eighth, and after walking the Reds' Todd Frazier on four pitches struck out the Mets' Daniel Murphy.
Rodney even finished off his outing with his famed shooting the arrow in the sky move, even though it wasn't the final out of the game.
"It's my signature," he said. "I had to do it."
He said he doesn't feel it should bother anybody when he takes the time for the added touch at the end of a save.
"The game is over," he said. "People are leaving. It's a way of expressed myself. It is a way of having fun. When you are a closer, there is tension, and you just let it go."
Hernandez has been a workhorse for the Mariners.
In his 10th big league season, he has worked at least six innings in 236 of his 289 starts, and has failed to work five innings only 17 times. Since 2009, he has worked at least seven innings, allowing two earned runs or fewer, in 109 of 185 starts.
"That is my job," Hernandez said of his workload.
A five-time All-Star selection in the last six years, the 28-year-old native of Venezuela made his first start and third appearance in an All-Star Game. He has allowed two hits in three scoreless All-Star innings.
And this time was even better than the previous ones, admitted Hernandez.
"It is such an honor to be an All-Star, and especially to be an All-Star this year because it is the last one for Derek Jeter," he said. "And it was an honor that Salvador Perez was my catcher."
Perez, who is four years younger, and Hernandez are both natives of Valencia, Venezuela.