Not only did Felix Hernandez answer the call in the start that followed the worst outing of his career, but he did it against one of the best pitchers in the game. Hernandez out-dueled San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner on the way to a 2-0 win (box score) Wednesday night at Safeco Field.
DH Mark Trumbo was the first Mariner to record a hit, and that didn’t come until the fifth inning. But it was CF Austin Jackson’s RBI triple in the sixth that left the biggest mark. With C Mike Zunino on first, Jackson lined a rope into right-centerfield. Giants CF Angel Pagan looked like he might make the play, but the ball fell just beyond his reach to bring in the first run of the game. Jackson scored one batter later.
Hernandez has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball for a reason: He rarely follows one bad outing with another. After giving up eight earned runs without getting out of the first inning in his last start, Hernandez pitched eight scoreless innings. He was as good Wednesday as he was bad the last time out. Boy, did the Mariners need it after two terrible losses in Houston.
Admit it: there was a time early in fifth inning when you thought Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was on the way to perfection. He retired the first 16 batters before Trumbo finally ended that talk. The Mariners managed four hits, but they struck like 90-pound hammers on a night when two of the best pitchers in the game were going at it. Seeing Trumbo and 2B Robinson Cano contribute was a positive sign.
“I was not that pumped. Just trying to make it through one (inning) . . . “You never want to look bad twice. The mindset is to go back and have a good game.” — Hernandez
Manager Lloyd McClendon said before Wednesday’s game that Fernando Rodney might close soon. For whoever is still with us after that nugget, McClendon explained that Rodney might see action in a close game if Carson Smith isn’t available, adding that the veteran might be close to winning his job back. “Listen, we need Fernando Rodney if we’re going to be successful this year,” McClendon said. “I think he’s well on his way back to being that pitcher that we all want him to be” . . . LHP James Paxton isn’t expected back anytime soon. McClendon said before the game that Paxton (strained finger) has had a setback and won’t throw until further notice . . . The last time Hernandez has allowed four or more earned runs in consecutive starts was May 2013, when the Rangers and Indians tagged him for 19 hits and 10 earned runs in back-to-back starts . . . The only other time Hernandez and Bumgarner started the same game came June 17, 2012 – exactly three years before Wednesday night’s duel.
Is LHP Mike Montgomery for real? Or is the minor-league journeyman just a flash in the pan? Thursday should provide a little more data as Montgomery (1-1, 1.89 ERA) tries to keep it going in a series finale against the Giants. Struggling veteran Ryan Vogelsong (4-5, 4.81 ERA this season, and 0-3 with a 6.61 ERA over three June starts) is scheduled to start for San Francisco.