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Felix caps frustrating '17 on high note

Mariners veteran hurls 6 innings of 1-run ball vs. A's
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

OAKLAND -- Felix Hernandez pitched what he said will be his final game of the season on Monday as he closed out a frustrating campaign on a high note with six strong innings in Seattle's 7-1 victory over the A's.

And now Hernandez knows he needs to continue on that path if he's to put this year's difficulties behind him after spending nearly four months on the disabled list with shoulder issues.

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OAKLAND -- Felix Hernandez pitched what he said will be his final game of the season on Monday as he closed out a frustrating campaign on a high note with six strong innings in Seattle's 7-1 victory over the A's.

And now Hernandez knows he needs to continue on that path if he's to put this year's difficulties behind him after spending nearly four months on the disabled list with shoulder issues.

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"I just have to learn from my mistakes, what I did this year, try to be healthy for next year and be better," said the 31-year-old right-hander, who finished 6-5 with a 4.36 ERA in 16 starts. "What I learned is I just have to try to be healthy. If I'm healthy, I can do things like I did today."

Hernandez may also have learned he can pitch smarter when needed, as he did Monday when held the A's to two hits and one run after what he admitted was perhaps the worst pregame bullpen session of his career.

Hernandez said pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. told manager Scott Servais to have long reliever Andrew Albers start loosening up his arm in the first inning because the bullpen session looked so bad.

"Mel told me, 'I don't know if he's going to get through the first inning. Nothing is working,'" Servais said. "But lo and behold, he went out there and got through the first, got a couple double-play balls early. He found his rhythm and just executed.

"He made pitches tonight, he wasn't trying to strike people out because he didn't have his top-notch stuff. It goes to show what kind of talent Felix has, on the nights he doesn't even feel good, to execute and stay at the bottom of the zone like that and trust his stuff."

Video: SEA@OAK: Servais on Hernandez's start in 7-1 win

Hernandez, who has two years and $53 million remaining on his contract, moved past the 2,500-inning total for his career, now at 2,501 1/3 in his 13 seasons with Seattle. That's a significant milestone, given the most-recent pitchers to achieve that total in one consecutive stretch with one team have been Justin Verlander with the Tigers (2005-17), Tim Wakefield with the Red Sox (1995-2011), Greg Maddux with the Braves (1993-2003), John Smoltz with the Braves (1988-2008) and Tom Glavine with the Braves (1987-2008).

"It means a lot," Hernandez said. "I made a comment when I signed my contract here that I'm not going to disappoint anybody and I'll be loyal to this team and I want to make the playoffs with this team. It's not going to happen this year, but I have two more years to come and I'm happy to be here."

The Mariners would be even happier if he continues pitching the way he did Monday.

"Sometimes you don't have your wipeout stuff and you have to be able to execute and keep the ball on the ground," Servais said. "He's starting to understand that. It's hard to switch your mindset when you've had the kind of career and success he's had and the way he's done it. Tonight he kind of had to and it worked out great for him."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez