Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez has been voted American League Pitcher of the Month for August. This is Hernandez’s third career monthly honor, previously accomplishing the feat in June and September 2009. He is the second straight Mariner to garner the award this season, following teammate Jason Vargas, who was voted the winner in July.
Hernandez compiled a perfect 4-0 record with three shutouts, a 1.08 ERA, five walks and 31 strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched over five starts. Among qualifying starters, the 26-year-old finished first in the A.L. in shutouts, ERA and opponents batting average (.137), was tied for first in wins and was third in innings pitched.
In an August 4th matchup against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, the right-hander allowed two hits, two walks and fanned six as the Mariners edged the Yankees, 1-0. The shutout marked just the 10th time that the Yankees were held scoreless at the current Yankee Stadium, two of which have come at the hands of Hernandez (also June 30, 2010). After allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits and striking out three in a no-decision against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on August 10th, the Venezuela native etched his name into the record books during his next start against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 15th, hurling the first perfect game in team history and the 23rd in Major League history in a 1-0 victory at Safeco Field. Hernandez struck out 12 in the 113-pitch outing, becoming the youngest pitcher in nearly 30 years to reach perfection and becoming just the second foreign-born pitcher to complete a perfect game, joining Nicaragua’s Dennis Martinez (July 28, 1991). Hernandez’s roll continued against the Cleveland Indians on August 21st as the 2010 A.L. Cy Young Award winner allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts over 7.2 innings as the Mariners defeated the Tribe, 5-1, in Seattle. It was the second straight start for Hernandez that carried historical significance as the three-time A.L. All-Star (2009, 2011-12) joined Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning as the only pitchers to follow a perfect game with a start of at least 7.0 innings, allowing one or fewer runs and earning the win. In his final start of the month on August 27th against the Minnesota Twins, Hernandez scattered five hits and struck out five in a complete game, 1-0 victory at Target Field. Hernandez became just the fifth pitcher since 1968 to record four 1-0 shutouts in a season, with Bert Blyleven the last to reach the feat during the 1976 season. His five shutouts are a club record, and he is the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1998 to record five shutouts in a 12-start span.
Others receiving votes included Baltimore’s Jim Johnson (11 G, 10 SV, 0 BB, 8 SO) and Miguel Gonzalez (3-1, 1.91 ERA, 10 BB, 22 SO); Detroit’s Max Scherzer (4-0, 2.25 ERA, 9 BB, 44 SO); and Kansas City’s Greg Holland (2-0, 9 SV, 0.63 ERA, 4 BB, 13 SO).
In recognition for his American League Pitcher of the Month Award, Felix Hernandez will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for his accomplishment.