With anyone else on the mound, the Mariners easily could have been swept by Milwaukee Sunday, completing the worst home stand of the season. But with Felix Hernandez in his best form, they overcame another largely stagnant offensive performance and beat the Brewers 2-0 in front of 25,390 at Safeco Field.
Hernandez worked 8.0 innings, struck out nine, issued one walk and allowed only four hits among his 108 pitches. In recording his 12th victory, King Felix lowered his American League-low 2.39 ERA to 2.28.
The Mariners (54-63) snapped a two-game losing streak to finish the home stand 2-4. Less than 24 hours after embarrassing themselves 10-0 following Ken Griffey Jr.’s Hall of Fame party, the Mariners recorded their 11th shutout win of the season.
After Hernandez departed to a standing ovation, Danny Farquhar produced another scoreless ninth for his fourth save in as many opportunities. Farquhar had not allowed a run in his last 13.2 innings.
Hernandez has worked 98 games in his career in which he has allowed one or fewer runs. Felix’s performance was especially noteworthy since Seattle’s starters were 2-7 with a 7.44 ERA in the previous nine games.
Outscored by Milwaukee in the three games 20-8, the Mariners eked out four hits against Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta, but one was Justin Smoak’s 13th home run in the fifth inning, a solo shot that provided the winning margin.
“When we got a run on the board we knew it was going to be smooth sailing the rest of the way,” Dustin Ackley told ROOT Sports. “We were lucky to have him on the mound today.”
Aside from Hernandez’s effort, a big rebound from his last start when he lasted only 5.0 innings while allowing nine runs (six earned), the other good thing the Mariners did Sunday was play error-free ball. Seattle had made 12 errors in its previous 11 games, including seven in the last four.
“Good effort,” said acting manager Robby Thompson. “Felix was Felix, another outstanding outing. He threw the ball very well.”
After Hernandez fanned two in the eighth inning, he was at 108 pitches. Thompson said that, after consulting with his Cy Young candidate, there was no chance he would pitch the ninth.
“I talked to him about it, but he was about at the end of his rope,” said Thompson. “He’d thrown 20 pitches in the eighth inning and he’d had enough. He was ready to pass the ball along to Farquhar.”
The Mariners broke through in the third when Ackley led off with a double, advanced to third on a ground ball by Brendan Ryan and scored on a wild pitch by Peralta.
The Mariners are off Monday, then begin a nine-game road trip with three at Tampa Bay followed by three at Texas and three at Oakland.
Erasmo Ramirez (3-0, 71.3) is scheduled pitch for Seattle Tuesday against Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (6-4, 2.71), although it’s possible Ramirez will move to Wednesday (switching with Aaron Harang) due to working 1.2 innings out of the bullpen Friday.
NOTES: The Mariners have been blanked eight times this season and shut out their opponents 11 times . . . Acting manager Robby Thompson held Nick Franklin out of the lineup Sunday after Franklin complained of not feeling well. Brendan Ryan got a start and went 1-for-3 . . . Mariner manager Eric Wedge made another clubhouse appearance Sunday. He had a closed-door meeting with the coaches in the wake of the two bad losses to the Brewers, then went around the clubhouse talking to players. Out since July 22 after suffering a stroke, Wedge indicated his plan is to return to the dugout after the road trip.