Looking for a memorable day this early in the Seattle Mariners 2011 season, take this one.
Felix Hernandez did. He seized the game against the San Diego Padres and dominated it, striking out 13 battes to match his career best, pitched the Mariners to their fifth win in a row and - surprise! - out of the basement in the American League West.
Backed with plenty of offense, the Mariners 22nd win of the year inched them past Oakland by a half game in the standings, and they're now a game behind the Angels and 1 1/2 in back of the Rangers.
Felix also extended a remarkable stretch by the Mariners rotation - nine consecutive games in which the starting pitcher has worked at least seven innings and given up no more than two runs. Last time that happened was in July, 1988, when the San Francisco Giants did it.
“This was what we expected,” catcher Miguel Olivo said. “We’ve got an amazing starting rotation, we’ve just been looking for runs to support them, and now we’re getting them.”
“We’re playing good baseball, doing the little things right,” Felix said. “Our rotation is doing a great job. Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda are getting better and the other two starters (Jason Vargas and Doug Fister) are working hard between starts to keep it going.”
Felix may have shared the spotlight with rookie teammate Pineda, but his numbers are just fine, thanks. Now 5-4 in 11 starts, Hernandez has pitched 77 2/3 innings and has a 3.01 earned run average, 21 walks and 77 strikeouts