The Seattle Mariners continued to give the Detroit Tigers fits in the opener of this set on Tuesday. That trend may continue tonight when Felix Hernandez takes the hill against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Hernandez lost his first two decisions to the Tigers - including the first big league start of his career - but has responded by going 8-0 against them in nine starts since. He also has not allowed a home run in his last 47 2/3 innings against them.
With another victory tonight, Hernandez will become the first pitcher since Dennis Lamp in 1989 to win nine decisions in a row against Detroit. Lamp's streak of 11 consecutive victories - six as a starter - versus the Tigers began in 1982 and saw him pitch for the Chicago White Sox, Toronto, Oakland and Boston.
Hernandez has run into a familiar problem of late, as he has been afforded just one run of support in his last two appearances. The former AL Cy Young Award winner was terrific on Thursday against Cleveland, scattering five hits with 12 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings. However, he did not get a decision, as the Mariners lost, 2-1.
"He's obviously one of the best in the business," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Not only does he have excellent stuff, he's got a good feel for what to do with it. I'm sure he's figured out a way to attack the hitters a little bit more. He still relies on good stuff, but he's not just some guy who rears back and throws it. He knows what he's doing. He's really good."
Hernandez is 1-1 on the year with a 2.76 ERA.
Seattle won for the sixth time in eight tries against the Tigers in Tuesday's opener, as Michael Saunders knocked in three runs in the Mariners' 7-4 triumph. Ichiro Suzuki added three hits and two runs scored, while Kyle Seager finished with two hits, an RBI and two runs scored for Seattle, which snapped a four-game slide overall with the win.
Jason Vargas (3-1) allowed four runs on six hits and a walk through six innings for the win. Brandon League tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his sixth save of the year.
"Vargas did a nice job today. I thought he controlled the ball game real well," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "But the offense really stepped up for us tonight."
Alex Avila hit a two-run homer and Miguel Cabrera had a solo shot in Detroit's fourth loss in five games.
Max Scherzer (1-2) was touched for five runs on 10 hits and two walks to suffer the loss.
"His command just wasn't good," Leyland said about Scherzer. "He had over 100 pitches in five innings and that's usually a disaster."
Getting the call for the Tigers tonight will be lefty Adam Wilk, who has lost both of his starts this season and has pitched to a 4.00 ERA in doing so. Wilk absorbed the loss on Thursday to Texas, as he allowed three runs (two earned) and 10 hits in only four innings.
This will be his first-ever start against the Mariners.
The Mariners have won 12 of their last 19 matchups with the Tigers with seven of those victories coming in the Motor City.