On the four-year anniversary of his historic grand slam off of all-star pitcher Johan Santana at the now demolished Shea Stadium, Hernandez came up big at the plate again on Friday night.
His two-run double in the second inning was the highlight of another solid offensive showing from the Seattle Mariners.
But unlike that magical night four years ago, when he left the game with a severely sprained ankle, Hernandez not only got the game-winning hit, but he also got the win.
Hernandez pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits, while striking out 10 and walking just one to help the Mariners end a four-game losing streak against the Padres with a 5-1 win at Petco Park.
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Well the swing and everything wasn't much different. The only difference was that it didn't go over the fence. But on cool Friday night - cool for San Diego standards - nothing was going over the fence.
Felix explains his whole night - which also includes seven innings pitched, one run allowed on six hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk - below.
The drama got a little more delicious in the eighth inning when it appeared Hernandez might have an outside chance to get another grand slam on the anniversary.
With two outs, Padres reliever Brad Brach walked Brendan Ryan to load the bases with Hernandez due to come to the plate. But Hernandez never got his chance for another one. Instead, Wedge opted to pinch hit with John Jaso ending Hernandez’s night. Jaso grounded out to second to end the inning.
There was no thought of letting Hernandez hit.
“No, we’ve got to try to add on right there,” Wedge said. “He’s at 94 pitches, he’s only going to pitch one more inning anyway. He was most definitely going to go back out there if he didn’t get up there, but Jaso has done such a nice job for us in that role. And he smoked it. But the kid made a nice play. We were probably a foot away from scoring two more runs, which is a completely different ballgame.”
Wedge figured Hernandez might lobby to hit and never allowed his starter to do so.
“I didn’t even look at him,” Wedge said. “I didn’t give him a chance to remind me. I saw him peeking over his shoulder when he was on deck and I didn’t look at him then either. I wasn’t going to give him any indication.”
But Hernandez wouldn’t have argued to stay in.
“No, no, no,” he said about wanting to stay in the game. “I just wanted to win today. I don’t care about hitting, I just want to win the game.”
After sitting out last night, Michael Saunders had a big night, going 2-for-3 with a solo homer, two runs scored and two stolen bases.
“He threw a 1-0 cutter that surprised me,” Saunders said of the homer he pulled to right. “Typically, Marquis was a heavy sinker guy. I took a bad swing at it. He came back with a 1-1 cutter and I just tried to keep my hands inside of it.”
He hit the ball hard, it was just a matter if it would hook foul.
“I was begging for it to stay fair,” Saunders said. “That’s one when you come back and you are probably striking out in the next couple of pitches. I was trying to blow it fair, praying for it, and it heard the klink and saw it hit the foul pole and was relieved
It was Saunders’ eighth homer of the season, his seventh road home run and sixth solo home run.
A few quick notes ..
The balk that was called on Felix was for not completing stepping off the rubber when he turned and threw to first. Part of his first foot was still there. He said he was trying to be quick.
Saunders is hitting .345 (22-for-70) with 14 runs, five homers and five stolen bases in his last 22 games.
Brendan Ryan has safely in six of his last seven games and his hitting .391 (9-for-23) . And the double play he turned on the hard hit ball Everth Cabrera was brilliant. He seems to have one of those per game.
Ichiro is 10 for his last 19 since his day off.