GAME: Red Sox (54-36, 1st, AL East, 4.5 GA) at Mariners (39-49, 4th, AL West, -12.5 GB). GAME #: 89. SERIES: 1st of 4 games. MEETING: 1st (Red Sox won 2012 series 5-4). WHEN: Monday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Red Sox L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
An All-Star for the fourth time (every year since 2009 except his Cy Young year of 2010), Felix Hernandez ranks second in the American League with a 2.69 ERA (just behind teammate Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2.60), third in innings pitched (124.0), T3 in quality starts (13) and fourth in strikeouts (130). But he hasn’t won a game in three weeks despite two quality starts in three outings, all no-decisions.
When the Mariners, winners of four of their past six, begin a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox Monday night at Safeco Field, Hernandez faces the American League’s best team by record (54-36) and an offense that ranks first in runs (458), extra-base hits (318), on-base percentage (.350), slugging (.446) and on-base + slugging (.796), and second in hits (864) and batting average (.278).
The Mariners have, somewhat remarkably, hit more home runs than the Red Sox (104-91), but a major difference is that Boston delivers in the clutch while the Mariners do not. The Red Sox are hitting .279 with runners in scoring position while Seattle is at .222, last in the league. Seattle enters the series having gone 2-for-its-last-32 with RISP.
In Tacoma native Jon Lester, Hernandez faces a lefthander who seems to be righting himself. Lester lost four games and took two no-decisions in a six-start stretch from May 20-June 16, but has won two of his last three. In his last outing, against San Diego, Lester finished with a no-decision, but permitted one earned run in 7.0 innings.
The Red Sox feature three American League All-Stars, starter David Ortiz, the former Mariner farmhand, reserve Dustin Pedroia and pitcher Clay Buchholz, who will not throw against the Mariners in the series due to injury.
MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (8-4, 2.69 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
The 27-year-old Hernandez, in his ninth major league season, all with Seattle, will make his 19th start and first against the Red Sox. The Mariners ace took his fourth no-decision in his last five outings with 7.0 innings of two-run ball last Wednesday in Texas. He’s 6-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 12 career starts against the Red Sox. Hernandez, an All-Star for the fourth time, is seeking his first win since June 15 when he defeated Oakland 4-0.
- LAST START: July 3 at Texas, took a no-decision in a 4-2 Seattle victory; 2 earned runs on 7 hits in 7.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 home runs, 108 pitches, 69 for strikes.
- LAST VS. RED SOX: June 28, 2012, defeated Boston 1-0 at Safeco Field; 0 earned runs on 5 hits in 9.0 innings; 13 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 128 pitches, 68 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. RED SOX: 6-2, 3.18 ERA in 12 starts covering 85.0 innings; 76 strikeouts, 30 walks, 8 home runs, 1.25 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 53-37, 3.16 ERA in 126 starts covering 872.2 innings; 843 strikeouts, 239 walks, 69 home runs, 1.18 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Ryan Kalish (1-for-6, .167), Mike Napoli (6-for-33, .182), Jonny Gomes (2-for-10, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Dustin Pedroia (10-for-32, .313), Stephen Drew (2-for-7, .286), Jacob Ellsbury (6-for-21, .286).
- CURRENT RED SOX VS. HERNANDEZ: 42-for-176, .239 BA, 53 strikeouts, 21 walks, 5 home runs, .318 on-base percentage.
RED SOX: LHP Jon Lester (8-4, 4.41 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
The 29-year-old Lester, a Tacoma (Bellarmine High) native in his eighth major league season, all with Boston, will make his 19th start and first against the Mariners. After more than a month of struggles, Lester finally appears to have turned the corner. The left-hander has gone seven innings in each of his last two starts with a 3.21 ERA.
- LAST START: July 3 vs. San Diego, took a no-decision in Boston’s 2-1 win; 1 earned run on 6 hits in 7.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 102 pitches, 71 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: Sept. 4, 2012, won 4-3 at Safeco Field; 3 earned runs on 9 hits in 6.0 innings; 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 home runs, 111 pitches, 64 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 4-2, 3.58 ERA in 9 starts covering 60.1 innings; 63 strikeouts, 15 walks, 7 home runs, 1.30 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 3-2, 4.43 ERA in 7 starts covering 44.2 innings; 48 strikeouts, 12 walks, 7 home runs, 1.34 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Michael Morse (0-for-3, .000), Kendrys Morales (0-for-3, .000), Kyle Seager (1-for-7, .143).
- HATES TO FACE: Michael Saunders (3-for-6, .500), Brendan Ryan (3-for-9, .333), Endy Chavez (2-for-6, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. LESTER: 29-for-98, .296 BA, 28 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 home runs, .303 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Four vs. Boston Red Sox (Monday-Thursday), three vs. L.A. Angels (Friday-Sunday) to the All-Star break. Following the break, the Mariners play three at Houston and then return home for seven against the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins.
- After losing his first six road starts, Joe Saunders has won three of his last four, including Sunday’s 3-1 win over Cincinnati at Great American Ballpark.
- Raul Ibanez, with a first-inning single Sunday, has a 12-game hitting streak.
- Tom Wilhelmsen, who needed five pitches to record a 1-2-3 ninth Sunday, has 18 saves in 23 chances.
- Hit two home runs Sunday (Nick Franklin, Justin Smoak) and have scored 49.8 percent of their runs (162 of 325) on homers, a figure that leads the majors.
- The Mariners are expected to send Michael Morse out on a rehab assignment to AAA Tacoma sometime this week. It’s unclear whether Morse will rejoin the Mariners before the All-Star break.
|7/8||Mon||vs. Bos||RHP Felix Hernandez (8-4) vs. LHP Jon Lester (8-4)|
|7/9||Tue||vs. Bos||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4) vs. RHP Allen Webster (1-2)|
|7/10||Wed||vs. Bos||RHP Aaron Harang (4-7) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (5-3)|
|7/11||Thr||vs. Bos||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-3) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (5-8)|