Felix reaches 2,500 K's before allowing 7 runs

Hernandez is 36th pitcher and 6th youngest to reach milestone

May 11th, 2019

BOSTON -- With a 92-mph sinker, Felix Hernandez became the sixth-youngest pitcher in Major League history to reach the 2,500 strikeout mark.

He reached the milestone by getting Michael Chavis out on called strikes in the second inning of the Mariners’ 9-5 loss Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Hernandez then struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging in the following at-bat for 2,501.

“Finally,” Hernandez said. “It means a lot. It’s an honor to be in that elite [group of] pitchers. Hopefully I can play a few more years and I can get to 3,000.”

At 33 years and 33 days old, Hernandez became the 36th pitcher to reach 2,500 strikeouts. Only Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan (31.101), Walter Johnson (31.197), Pedro Martinez (32.221), Tom Seaver (32.287) and Bert Blyleven (33.000) were younger. Hernandez cites Martinez as one of his favorite pitchers growing up.

He also is only the fourth active pitcher with at least 2,500 strikeouts, along with CC Sabathia (3,007), Justin Verlander (2,766) and Max Scherzer (2,521).

The feat was significant in Mariners history, too. Hernandez is one of 12 pitchers in Major League history to collect as many strikeouts with one team. He is three K’s away from tying Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants, who recorded 2,504 more than 100 years ago.

“That’s a lot of strikeouts,” said acting manager Manny Acta. “We all know what he’s done in his career. Started at 19 years old, so that’s a great feat by him.”

Despite being staked to a 4-0 lead, the rest of Hernandez's outing didn’t go as planned. He was pulled in the third, allowing seven runs on six hits in 2 1/3 innings. He dropped to 1-4 with a 6.52 ERA on the season.

Acta had a sense going into the game that Hernandez might not be as on point on the mound. He hoped the Mariners’ 4-0 lead in the first inning would have been enough of a buffer, but the Red Sox responded with eight runs in the third.

“He didn’t warm up very well,” Acta said. “Our pitching coaches were worried about that. But he came out, threw the first inning, and we felt it was just the warmup. But he just couldn’t make it through.”

Hernandez shook off any cause for concern. He pointed to walks (three) and his curveball as part of the issue.

“Nothing going on. Just one of those days you don’t feel that well, but it was not a problem. Not a physical problem.”

Hernandez will look ahead to his next start. The 15-year veteran recorded his first career strikeout in his Major League debut on Aug. 4, 2005. The most memorable, though? A curveball to Adrian Beltre two years ago.

“He’s my best friend,” Hernandez said with a smile. “He’s trying to hit homers against me, and I’m trying to strike him out.”