Felix Hernandez did the maximum that could be asked, and the Mariners offense did the minimum to get a win, nudging across a second-inning run to beat the Yankees 1-0 on a broiling Sunday in New York that was no match for the hotness of Seattle’s ace.
Hernandez gave up two hits and two walks, struck out eight and needed only 101 pitches. He held the powerful Yankees, who lead the majors with 167 homers, hitless in the final six innings with a killer change-up to complement his 94 mph fastball and wicked curve. Given the opponent, park and the minimal lead, it may have been his best game of the year.
It was Hernandez’s third complete game of the season, only the seventh complete game thrown in the hitter-friendly history (298 games) of new Yankee Stadium.
“Everything was working,” said catcher John Jaso, understanding massively. “He was hard to hit.”
Added manager Eric Wedge: “That was the most impressive start I’ve seen as a manager, and I’ve seen a lot of good and great pitchers. That lineup, this park, with a 1-0 lead and so many misses and mis-hits. Doesn’t get any better than that.”
Asked whether that was the best game he’s pitched, Hernandez said, “Probably, but there’s been a lot of games. I don’t know. In this park, you gotta throw a lot of strikes and keep the ball down, which I did.”
The Yankees’ only hits were a double by Robinson Cano in the first and a single by Ichiro in the third, which extended his hitting streak in pinstripes to all 11 games since his trade from the Mariners.
Mike Carp continued his hot hitting with a double and single, including what proved to be the game winner. In the second, after Jaso doubled into the right field corner and Kyle Seager moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt, Carp singled to left off Hiroki Kuroda.
The Yankees starter was good too, going 6.1 innings and giving up the run on seven hits, four strikeouts and one walk. Th bullpen was also effective — the only other Mariner with more than one hit was newcomer outfielder Eric Thames.
But Hernandez was even better Saturday than was the Yankees’ ace, C.C. Sabathia, who crushed the Mariners Friday on three hits.
The only down note to the Mariners’ eighth win in nine games was an injury to shortstop Brendan Ryan, who was hit squarely on the left elbow and had to leave the game in the seventh. Wedge said X-rays were negative, and his status won’t be known until Sunday, when the series wraps up with the Mariners’ starter, Hisashi Iwakuma, going against former Mariners star Freddy Garcia.