Cliff Lee the Seattle Mariners left hander did his job going the route and took care of the New York Yankees the night before. Wednesday night it was Felix Hernandez the right hander pitcher of the Mariners who did his part. He also went the distance but his pitching gem may have been better than the one Lee threw.
It was a two-hit complete game 7-0 shut out over the potent Yankees lineup, 115 pitches and everything in his arsenal. As he said, “the slider, curveball, just tried to throw as many strikes as I could.” The Yankees could do nothing and seemed frustrated as they returned to the dugout.
Hernandez would not compare his performance to Lee. What mattered was the Mariners once again got two consecutive complete games from Lee and Hernandez. And it was the second time this season that Lee and Hernandez won back-to[back games.
It was the third straight complete game for Hernandez, two of them going as a win. Lee got the win Tuesday evening in the Bronx, his third consecutive complete game. “It happens, it happens,” said Hernandez about what he and Lee accomplished over the Yankees the past two nights.
Was there an incentive to top what Lee did? “We’re different pitchers,” said Hernandez who has a career 15-3 record in the month of June. The 24-year old native of Valencia Venezuela also had 11 strikeouts and as play concluded moved to second in that department in the American League.
More importantly, as the Yankees have discovered, if the Mariners continue to get this type of pitching from Lee and Hernandez, well they can make some noise in the second half of the season.
“You talk about the impact that Lee has on this pitching staff, I think it pushes Felix,” commented Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. “I thought it was the best pure stuff that Felix has shown in a game. He really dominated and kept their hitters off balance. It was a tremendous performance.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Hernandez “He’s as good as we have seen all year. His slider, changeup and curveball, he had it all working tonight. He’s got electric stuff.”
Hernandez finished the month of June with a 4-1 record and a 2.36 ERA and over his last four starts is 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA. “We knew his ability was there,” added Wakamatsu. “The key thing was getting the complete games. Every time you have an outing like this it’s something to look back on and learn from it.”
The last time the Yankees had back-to-back complete games thrown against them was back in April of 2000 when Toronto’s Chris Carpenter and Kelvin Escobar did it up in Toronto. And it has not happened in consecutive home games since 1991.
Said Girardi, “Good pitching will always beat good hitting; that’s the bottom line.” For the Mariners the bottom line is getting the rest of their pitching staff to follow in the footsteps of Lee and Hernandez.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com