Felix finishes off Twins in shutout; Cruz crushes 9th homer
SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez continued his long-running dominance of the Twins and Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison backed The King up with home runs as the Mariners topped Minnesota, 2-0, on Friday at Safeco Field.
Hernandez threw his 10th career shutout, allowing five hits and no walks and striking out nine as he improved to 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA on the year. The 29-year-old has now thrown six straight starts of eight-plus innings with two or less runs against the Twins.
It was Hernandez's first complete game and also first shutout since Aug. 27, 2012, also against the Twins.
"It's been awhile, huh?" said Hernandez, who now has 24 career complete games and 10 shutouts, second in franchise history to the 19 of Randy Johnson. "I felt strong, felt really good. And the bullpen needed it. They've been working really hard."
Twins right-hander Phil Hughes fell to 0-4 despite giving up just six hits and two runs in eight innings, with the only runs coming on solo shots by Cruz in the second and Morrison in the fifth.
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Another Cruz missile: The Mariners' new right fielder continued his long-ball parade with a towering shot into the upper deck in left field to lead off the second against Hughes and give Seattle a 1-0 lead. Cruz turned around a 1-2 cutter and drove it an estimated 459 feet, according to Statcast. More >
Plouffe ends perfecto: Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe had a two-hit night, but the most important one was his clean single into right field with two outs in the fifth inning. It didn't lead to any runs, but it did break up the perfect game that Hernandez had going at the time. Plouffe shot a ground ball up the middle for another single off Hernandez in the seventh.
The King in control: Hernandez retired 14 in a row before giving up his first hit on Plouffe's base hit. But he really had to bear down after a pair of infield hits put runners on the corners with no out in the sixth. Protecting a 2-0 lead, Hernandez retired Danny Santana on a flyout to shallow center, struck out Torii Hunter and then induced an inning-ending grounder to first by Joe Mauer.
"You've got to recognize a good performance on their side," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "We were trying different things. We tried to be aggressive, we tried to be patient. But nothing was very effective."
"He was awesome. I called it. I drove into the field today and said, 'He's going to do something cool.' He was perfect through four-and-something and I thought, 'Ohh, here we go.' The perfect game didn't happen, but a complete game will do. And we won." -- Morrison on Hernandez's performance
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Hernandez struck out the final four batters in his last start on Saturday against Texas and the first four batters against the Twins. The last MLB pitcher to strike out eight or more in a row was the Mets' Jacob deGrom (nine straight over two starts last September). The last Mariners pitcher to do it was reliever Arthur Rhodes (eight straight over three games from May 4-8, 2002). The last Seattle starter with eight straight K's was Mark Langston in two starts on Sept. 22 and 28, 1986.
Twins: Right-hander Trevor May, a native of Kelso, Wash., will pitch near his hometown for the first time on Saturday at 8:10 p.m. CT. May recorded his first win of the season and the fourth of his career in his last start against the Indians. May gave up one run on four hits while striking out four in a career high-tying six innings of work.
Mariners: Southpaw James Paxton will try to get back on track in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco after allowing 10 hits and seven runs in 2 2/3 innings in his last start against the Rangers. The 26-year-old is off to a rough start (0-1, 8.40 ERA in three games) as the No. 2 man in the Mariners rotation. This will be his first time facing the Twins.
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