King has returned, outduels MadBum
Coming off worst start of career, Hernandez tosses eight shutout innings
SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez had plenty of motivation Wednesday night, facing Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and coming off the worst start of his career. So leave it to the King to deliver one of his gems with eight shutout innings in a 2-0 win at Safeco Field.
Hernandez said he'd put his last outing -- a one-third of an inning, eight-run meltdown in Houston -- behind him when he took the mound. But apparently it wasn't too far out of his mind.
"I just wanted to make it through one," Hernandez said with a smile after bouncing back in a big way. "Yeah, this was a great matchup. You can't make any mistakes against that guy. He's really good. I was just throwing a lot of strikes and the pitches were there."
Hernandez became the American League's first 10-game winner as he improved to 10-3 with a 3.08 ERA. After his blip in Houston, this looked more like the Mariners ace as he held the Giants to four hits -- all singles -- with two walks and five strikeouts.
"I keep running out of words to describe this guy," said Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon. "I expected that he would come back strong. I thought he was a little bit more pumped. [But] I can't imagine him being more focused than he usually is."
Hernandez eventually allowed that indeed his previous start was something he wanted to erase.
"You don't want to look bad twice," he said. "The mindset is to go back and have a good game."
Bumgarner outpitched Hernandez early, throwing a perfect game for 4 1/3 innings until a bad-hop single by Mark Trumbo. But the Mariners touched him for two runs in the sixth and that was all Hernandez needed.
"He's a good pitcher," Hernandez said. "You can't make any mistakes. It's going to [be] a 0-0 game and if somebody makes a mistake, it's 1-0 and you lose the game. So I was just going out there trying to make good pitches."
Said Bumgarner, "There's a little motivation because you know who you're going up against."
The Mariners, a disappointing 30-36 on the season, enjoyed the high-profile pitchers' duel.
"These are the ones that it's fun to be part of," said catcher Mike Zunino. "You know it's going to take everyone grinding out at-bats, working pitch counts and getting some timely hitting. Luckily we were able to get that. Felix did a great job. Even if he got guys on, he limited damage and made some big pitches."
And in the end, the Mariners found a way to beat Bumgarner on a night both teams managed just four hits.
"He's as good as they get," McClendon said. "You just can't keep giving every pitcher you face credit. At some point you've got to have tough at-bats and you've got to find a way to win. Tonight we found a way."