Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Felix Who? Yankees Beat Mariners

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez is known as "King Felix." Why?

The 27-year-old Venezuelan won the American League Cy Young Award in 2010 -- when he was 13-12, although he did lead the League in ERA with 2.27.  And he's a 3-time All-Star who pitched a perfect game on August 15 last season, against the Tampa Bay Rays.

But he has never won 20 games in a season -- he went 19-5 in 2009 -- and has never pitched a game in a Playoff race, let alone in the Playoffs.  He reached the majors in 2005, and since then, the M's have finished the following number of games out of the closest available Playoff berth: 26, 17, 6, 34, 10, 29, 24 and 18.  The closest they've come to the Playoffs since he got there was 2007, when they were 6 games behind the Whatever They Were Calling Themselves That Season Angels of Anaheim for the AL Western Division title, and also 6 games behind the Yankees for the Wild Card.

"King"? A king wears a crown.  Felix Hernandez has never won a World Series.  Or a Pennant.  He's never even seen a postseason game, except on television, much less been tested in a big game.

"King," my ass.

*

Last night, in the opener of a 3-game series at Yankee Stadium, Hernandez looked royal early on, outpitching Yankee ace CC Sabathia.  He got into the 6th inning without allowing a run.  To make matters worse, Raul Ibanez hit a home run -- and he no longer plays for the Yankees.

But in the 4th inning, Hernandez fielded a Lyle Overbay grounder, tried to field the play himself, and there was a collision.  Overbay was ruled safe due to interference, and Hernandez hurt his back on the play.

He pitched on until the 6th inning, with a 3-0 lead.  But the Yankees, as empires tend to do, struck back.  Robinson Cano led off with a single.  Vernon Wells popped up.  Curtis Granderson, returning from injury to play his first game all season, grounded into a force play; Cano was out at 2nd, Grandy was safe at 1st.  Then Lyle Overbay drove a double to right, scoring Grandy.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn't want to risk his "king" any further, so he brought Yoervis Medina to pitch the 7th.  Chris Nelson led off with a single.  Medina struck out Austin Romine, but before he could complete the strikeout, a wild pitch sent Nelson to 2nd.  Wedge brought in Charlie Furbush, and he walked Brett Gardner.  Then Cano doubled home the tying runs.  The Mariners intentionally walked Wells.  Then Furbush unintentionally walked Granderson to load the bases with just 1 out.  Overbay hit a drive to center, deep enough to score Cano with the go-ahead run.

CC wasn't great, but he did get into the 7th, allowing 3 runs, 2 of them earned (on the Ibanez homer), 10 hits, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts.  Shawn Kelly finished the 7th, David Robertson pitched a scoreless 8th, Mariano Rivera a perfect 9th.

Yankees 4, Mariners 3.  WP: Kelley (2-0).  SV: Rivera (16 for 16).  LP: Furbush (0-2).

Last night, the Baltimore Orioles lost, so they're 2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.  The Boston Red Sox also lost, so they're 3 back.  The Rays are on a roll, winning 6 straight, and are now 4 1/2 back (4 in the loss column).  The Toronto Blue Jays have won 3 straight, and they're 9 1/2 (10) back.

R.A. Dickey, the ex-Met knuckleballer, was the winning pitcher for the Jays last night.  Well, of course he won: He was facing a National League team.  True, the San Francisco Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series, but it's not like he was facing an American League team.  Pitching against ALers is hard!

As for Dickey's former team, the Mets got shuffled by the Cards, 10-4.  Dillon Gee gets an F, going only 4 innings, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits and 3 walks.  Gee was no whiz.

The Yanks-M's series continues tonight.  Phil Hughes starts against Hisashi Iwakuma.

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