Manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins will take their first look of the season at Felix Hernandez Friday night at Safeco Field. / Wiki Commons
GAME: Twins (43-56, 4th, AL Central, -12.0 GB) at Mariners (49-53, AL West, -10.0 GB). GAME #: 103. SERIES: 2nd of 4 games. MEETING: 5th (series tied 2-2). WHEN: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Twins L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
If the Baseball Writers Association of America conducted its American League Cy Young vote today, the award probably would go to Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, based largely on two dominating stretches. Over his past five starts, King Felix is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, the 1.54 ERA lowering his season mark to 2.43, best in the AL. Good as this is, in only represents Hernandez’s second-best run this season.
In a six-start streak from mid-April to mid-May, Hernandez produced a 4-0 record with matching 0.82 ERA and WHIP marks.
Another factor that might tilt a Cy Young vote to Hernandez: Of the four other current contenders — Chris Sale, White Sox; Bartolo Colon, Athletics; Max Scherzer, Tigers; Yu Darvish, Rangers — only Sale pitches for a club with a losing record. Sale’s numbers — 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.0 K/9 — are about equal to Hernandez’s.
Felix last made his case to the Twins in August, throwing a 1-0 complete game. But that was then, and now Hernandez will face a Minnesota team that struggles offensively. The Twins rank 11th in the AL in runs scored, 13th in hits, 13th in home runs, 11th in batting, 10th in on-base percentage, 12th in slugging and 11th in OPS.
Thursday night, the Twins should have been blanked 8-0, but Oliver Perez gave up a pair of run-scoring doubles with two outs in the ninth. The Twins couldn’t do anything with Hisashi Iwakuma, who stretched his streak of scoreless innings against them to 26.2.
Hernandez is right behind that 26.2. He hasn’t allowed an earned run to the Twins in his last 24.0 innings against them. Hernandez will oppose Scott Diamond, who defeated Seattle 10-0 June 2, but otherwise has struggled all season. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
The 27-year-old Hernandez, in his ninth major league season, all with Seattle, will make his 22nd start and first against the Twins. The four-time All-Star won his sixth straight decision Sunday with 6.0 shutout innings at Houston. Hernandez is 6-0 with a 2.34 ERA over 10 starts since his last loss May 25 in Texas. He’s 6-5 with a 2.17 ERA in 14 games vs. the Twins.
- LAST START: July 21 at Houston, won 12-5; 0 earned runs on 4 hits over 6.0 innings; 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 99 pitches, 65 for strikes.
- LAST VS. TWINS: Aug. 27, 2012, won 1-0 with a complete-game shutout; 0 earned runs on 5 hits over 9.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 100 pitches, 69 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. TWINS: 6-5, 2.17 ERA in 14 starts covering 95.1 innings; 85 strikes, 25 walks, 3 home runs, 0.94 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 55-37, .312 ERA in 128 starts covering 887.2 innings; 853 strikeouts, 241 walks, 69 home runs, 1.18 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Ryan Doumit (0-for-8, .000), Jamey Carroll (1-for-11, .091), Justin Morneau (5-for-33, .152).
- HATES TO FACE: Joe Mauer (14-for-33, .424), Trevor Plouffe (1-for-3, .333), Pedro Florimon (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT TWINS VS. HERNANDEZ: 26-for-111, .234 BA, 31 strikeouts, 13 walks, 4 home runs, .317 on-base percentage.
TWINS: LHP Scott Diamond (5-9, 5.53 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)
The 26-year-old Diamond, an Ontario, Canada native in his third major league season, all with Minnesota, will make his 19th start and second against Seattle. Diamond continued his season-long struggles with another rugged outing against the Indians Sunday. The left-hander allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits over 4.2 innings.
- LAST START: July 21 vs. Cleveland, lost 7-1; 5 earned runs on 7 hits in 4.2 innings; 0 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 91 pitches, 55 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: June 2 at Minnesota, won 10-0; 0 earned runs on 4 hits in 6.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 95 pitches, 57 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 1-1, 3.20 ERA in 3 starts covering 19.2 innings; 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 home runs, 1.11 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 0-0, 2.70 ERA in 1 start covering 6.2 innings; 2 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 home runs, 1.35 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Jason Bay (0-for-3, .000), Raul Ibanez (0-for-2, .000).
- HATES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (2-for-2, 1.000), Brendan Ryan (5-for-8, .625), Dustin Ackley (4-for-8, .500).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. DIAMOND: 19-for-59, .322 BA, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 home runs, .344 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. Cleveland (Monday-Wednesday), four vs. Minnesota (Friday-Monday). The Mariners are off Monday, then begin a six-game road series at Boston and Baltimore.
- With their 8-2 win Thursday, the Mariners are 14-6 in July and have won nine of their past 10.
- Hisashi Iwakum’s 10 wins are a career high. He had nine last year (9-5). He extended his scoreless streak against Minnesota to 26.2 innings. Iwakuma has won three in a row following a stretch in which he lost three times and had two no-decisions.
- Dustin Ackley tied his season high with three hits Thursday and hiked his batting average to a season-high .224.
- Brad Miller snapped an 0-for-13 slide with a double in the second inning, when Seattle staked Iwakuma to a 6-0 lead.
- Saturday’s start time is 1:10 p.m., which is aimed at helping the city cope with traffic issues due to the Seafair Torchlight Parade Saturday night. Since the start time falls within the FOX national window, neither the Mariners nor Twins will televise the game. This will be the only Seattle game of the season not carried on Root Sports or FOX.
- OF Michael Morse, who played a rehab game in Tacoma Thursday, could return to the Mariners by the weekend, according to interim manager Robby Thompson, who is filling in for Eric Wedge while Wedge recovers from a mild stroke. The Mariners face a tough roster decision when Morse returns, given that the club currently carries five outfielders in Raul Ibanez, Endy Chavez, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley and Jason Bay.
- The Mariners promoted first-round draft choice D.J. Peterson from A Everett to A Advanced Clinton after he hit .312 with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 29 games.
||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (5-9)
||RHP Aaron Harang (5-8) vs. RHP Samuel Deduno (5-4)
||RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-0) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (2-2)