Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft, doesn’t hit for average — he’s batting .238 — but he has clubbed 19 home runs with 51 RBIs. / Wiki Commons
GAME: Pirates (47-30, 2nd, NL Central, -1.0 GB) at Mariners (34-44, 4th, AL West, -10.5 GB). GAME #: 79. SERIES: 2nd of 2 games. MEETING: 4th (Pirates lead 2-1). WHEN: Wednesday, 12:40 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Pirates W 5. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When Felix Hernandez faces the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field, he will be making his first start since enduring a shelling at the hands of the L.A. Angels last week in Anaheim (six earned runs on 12 hits, including seven in a row). Since Hernandez rarely gets banged around, the intrigue will be to see how he responds.
His history provides few clues. The last time Hernandez was torched, Oct. 1, 2012 (seven earned runs on 12 hits in 5.1 innings in a 13-9 loss to the Angels) he had entire offseason to mull it over.
Wednesday, he’ll face a Pirates team on a roll. They won their fifth in a row Tuesday night, 9-4, in the opening game of their two-game set with Seattle and snapped the Mariners’ winning streak at two.
The Pirates did their significant damage in the second inning with home runs off lefty Joe Saunders, who lasted just 1.2 innings after allowing six earned runs in one of his worst starts of the year.
Hernandez will oppose Jeanmar Gomez, who just rejoined the Pirates from the 15-day disabled list (right forearm stiffness). Although he’s won two games this season, the Pirates have won each of his seven starts. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (8-4, 2.71 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)
The 27-year-old Hernandez, in his ninth major league season, all with Seattle, will make his 17th start and first against the Pirates. Hernandez still has to be reeling over what happened to him the last time he had the ball: seven consecutive hits in the fifth inning, which enabled the Angels to overcome 7-1 and 8-0 deficits to win 10-9.
- LAST START: June 20 at Anaheim, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 10-9 loss; 6 earned runs on a season-high 12 hits in 5.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 0 walks, 2 home runs, 87 pitches, 55 for strikes.
- LAST VS. PIRATES: June 21, 2007, won 3-0; 0 earned runs on 6 hits in 8.0 innings; 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 107 pitches, 71 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. PIRATES: 2-0, 2.57 ERA in 2 starts covering 16.0 innings; 14 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 0.87 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 53-37, 3.16 ERA in 125 starts covering 865.2 innings; 832 strikeouts, 237 walks, 68 home runs, 1.18 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Travis Snider (1-for-12, .083), Brandon Inge (4-for-22, .182), Russell Martin (3-for-17, .176).
- HATES TO FACE: Starling Marte (2-for-4, .500), Cliff Barnes (1-for-3, .333), Andrew McCutchen (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT PIRATES VS. HERNANDEZ: 15-for-77, .195 BA, 21 strikeouts, 3 walks, 0 home runs, .225 on-base percentage.
PIRATES: RHP Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 3.07 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
The 25-year-old Gomez, a Venezuela native in his fourth major league season and first with Pittsburgh, will make his eighth start and second against the Mariners. Gomez, coming off the 15-day DL, worked out of the Pirates’ pen until May 1, when he joined the rotation. Since then, he’s factored in just one decision, defeating the Mariners 4-1 at PNC Park. He’s made five starts since, all no-decisions.
- LAST START: June 2, took a no-decision in a 5-4 with over Cincinnati; 4 earned runs on 4 hits in 1.0 innings; 0 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 23 pitches, 13 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: May 7 at PNC Park, won 4-1; 0 earned runs on 2 hits in 5.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 66 pitches, 41 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-1, 1.64 ERA in 2 starts covering 11.0 innings; 8 strikeouts, 2 walks, 1 home run, 1.00 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-1, 3.00 ERA in 1 start covering 6.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 1.16 WHIP.
- LOVES/HATES TO FACE: Current Mariners have had only 17 at-bats against Gomez, going 3-for-17, .176 BA. Kendrys Morales, Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak had the hits.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Oakland (Friday-Sunday), two vs. Pittsburgh (Tuesday-Wednesday), three vs. Chicago Cubs (Friday-Sunday). Following the home stand, the Mariners head out on a six-game road trip through Texas and Cincinnati.
- Joe Saunders recorded is shortest start of the year in Seattle’s 9-4 loss Tuesday, lasting just 1.2 innings. It marked only the fourth time in 205 career starts that Saunders failed to work at least two frames. The loss snapped Saunders’ streak of five consecutive quality starts.
- Nick Franklin has hits in 11 of his past 13 games and is hitting .308 over that stretch.
- Justin Smoak’s ninth-inning home run was his first since June 18.
- Tom Wilhelmsen struck out the side in the seventh inning, tying a season high (also April 17 vs. Detroit).
- The Mariners Tuesday recalled INF/OF Dustin Ackley from AAA Tacoma and placed OF Franklin Gutierrez on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain. Ackley did not play Tuesday.
- Raul Ibanez has hit 15 of his 17 home runs since May 10. His eight long balls in June are tied for the most in the American League this month.
- Backup catcher Jesus Sucre is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list, as soon as his left wrist contusion heals.
- When Kendrys Morales hit a pinch-hit three-run home run off of Grant Balfour in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday to give the Mariners a 6-3 win over the Athletics, he joined Ken Phelps (a ninth-inning shot vs. Detroit Sept. 3, 1986) as the only players in franchise history to hit pinch-hit walk-off homers.
||RHP Felix Hernandez (8-4) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (2-0)
||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) vs. LHP Travis Wood (5-6)
||RHP Aaron Harang (3-7) vs. RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-7)
||RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-1) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (3-10)