The American League confirmed Tuesday what all in baseball knew – Felix Hernandez was the best there was in August.
With three of his four wins coming via shutout, Hernandez was named pitcher of the month, the third award of his career and second in a row for the Mariners, following the selection of Jason Vargas in July.
The back-to-back awards happened for the second time in club history (Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn in June/July 2009). Seattle has six of the 23 pitchers awards since the start of the 2009 season.
The big event was, of course, Aug. 15 against Tampa Bay — the first perfect game in Mariners history and the 23rd in MLB history. The 1-0 victory was the seventh perfecto to be decided in a 1-0 contest, the first in the AL since 1984.
All three of his August shutouts were 1-0, becoming the third pitcher in history with three 1-0 shutouts in a calendar month, joining Carl Hubbell (July 1933) and Dick Rudolph (August 1916).
In an Aug. 4 game at Yankee Stadium, the right-hander allowed two hits, two walks and fanned six as the Mariners edged the Yankees, 1-0, only the 10th time that the Yankees were held scoreless at the current Yankee Stadium, two of which have come at the hands of Hernandez (June 30, 2010).
After allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits and striking out three in a no-decision against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Aug. 10, the Venezuela native etched his name into the record books during his next start, striking out 12 in the 113-pitch outing, becoming the youngest pitcher in nearly 30 years to reach perfection and becoming just the second foreign-born pitcher to complete a perfect game, joining Nicaraguas Dennis Martinez (July 28, 1991).
Hernandez became just the fifth pitcher since 1968 to record four 1-0 shutouts in a season, with Bert Blyleven the last to reach the feat during the 1976 season. His five shutouts are a club record, and he is the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1998 to record five shutouts in a 12-start span.
Hernandez is 13-6 with a 2.51 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 204.0 innings pitched over 28 starts in his eighth season with the Mariners.
The Mariners Tuesday also called up seven players from AAA Tacoma. Five already spent time in Seattle this season: DH/1B Mike Carp, RHP Shawn Kelley, INF Alex Liddi, RHP Hector Noesi and OF Casper Wells.
Two players will be making their major league debuts: DH/1B Luis Jimenez and INF Carlos Triunfel.
Named the Tacoma Rainiers Offensive Player of the Year, Jimenez, 30, hit .310 (146×471) with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 81 RBI in 125 games. A PCL All-Star, he hit .364 (36×99) with 19 runs scored, 9 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs and 23 RBI over 28 games in August. During the month, he led the PCL in on-base percentage (.462) and OPS (1.148), while ranking 2nd in slugging (.687) and total bases (68).
Jimenez reached base safely in 28 consecutive games, April 29-June 1, batting .382 (39×102) with 22 runs scored, 8 doubles, 5 home run and 24 RBI.
Triunfel, 22, becomes the second-youngest player on the team (Erasmo Ramirez is two months younger). Triunfel is ranked by Baseball America as Seattles No. 25 prospect and listed as having the best infield arm in the farm system. He finished second on the Rainiers with 129 hits, 31 doubles, 62 RBI.
He set a career high with 10 home runs, 31 doubles and 62 RBI. He was named the Rainiers Defensive Player of the Year.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Jimenez, the Mariners have designated outfielder Johermyn Chavez for assignment. Chavez came to the Mariners from Toronto in the December 2009 trade with Brandon League for Brandon Morrow. The Mariners have 10 days to trade, release or outright Chavez.
In another move, the Mariners traded Rainiers catcher Guillermo Quiroz to the Boston Red Sox, Tuesday’s opponent, in exchange for cash.
Quiroz, 30, hit .278 (84×302) with 45 runs scored, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 15 home runs and 89 games with AAA Tacoma. He and Jimenez were the two Rainiers representatives on the PCL All-Star team. He signed with Seattle as a minor league free agent on Dec. 9, 2011. Quiroz appeared in seven games with the Mariners in three different seasons (2006, 2009-10), batting .261 (6×23). Overall he has appeared in 101 games in the majors with Toronto (2004-05), Seattle, Texas (2007) and Baltimore (2008). He is a career .208 hitter (53-for-255).