Felix Hernandez has to be excited with the way Seattle's offense has been producing runs lately and hopes to get in on some of that action when he toes the rubber for the 12th time tonight against the red-hot Chicago White Sox in the opener of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Mariners outscored the Texas Rangers, 31-11, in the last two games of their three-game series in Arlington and hammered the Rangers by a 21-8 score in Wednesday's series finale. The Mariners have scored a total of 21 runs in Hernandez's last five starts and got him just three in a 5-3 setback the last time out on Saturday versus the LA Angels of Anaheim.
Hernandez, the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner, allowed 10 hits and five runs in six innings to lose for the third time in four tries and fell to 4-4 in 11 starts this season, while raising his earned run average to 3.17. The right- hander is 2-2 in six starts away from the Emerald City and hopes to get some run support in his 12th career start against the White Sox. King Felix is 3-4 over the first 11 appearances against Chicago with a 3.28 ERA.
Mariners starter Blake Beaven received more than enough help from his offense in Wednesday's hammering of the Rangers even though he allowed five runs and eight hits through six innings. Hisashi Iwakuma pitched the final three innings and was reached for three runs and five hits.
Seattle pounded out 20 hits, as six players finished with two or more. Kyle Seager went 4-for-6 with two RBI and four runs scored, Jesus Montero collected three hits, including a home run, four runs scored and RBI and Justin Smoak belted a pair of home runs, finishing 3-for-5 with a career-best six RBI and three runs scored. Dustin Ackley also homered and knocked in three runs for Seattle, which has won two straight since a five-game slide and is 2-1 on a nine-game road trip. Michael Saunders had three hits in the win.
Seattle posted a 10-3 win on Tuesday and then fell one run shy of tying the single-game franchise record, accomplished on April 29, 1999 against Detroit.
"It's big, especially against a ballclub like this," Smoak said. "It's something that we're building for the future, but it's showing a little bit right now."
Smoak fell two shy of the Mariners' single-game RBI mark, last accomplished by Mike Cameron in May of 2001.
Chicago is coming off back-to-back sweeps of Cleveland and Tampa Bay and registered its season-high eighth consecutive win with Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Alexei Ramirez went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and Dayan Viciedo recorded three hits, a run scored and drove in a run for AL Central-leading Chicago, which has won 12 of 13 and is riding its longest winning streak since a nine- game run from July 4-15, 2010. The Pale Hose are 1 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland in the division and had homered in 15 straight games. They went 18-11 in May and improved to 17-9 on the road this season.
Viciedo is 16-for-29 with four homers and 13 RBI in his last seven games, while Paul Konerko needs one home run to pass Duke Snider (407) for sole possession of 47th place on the all-time list.
"We had a bunch of hits, a bunch of runs [this weekend]. Usually, after something like that, you go 180 degrees the other way," Konerko said after Wednesday's win. "We didn't stay quite as hot as a team, but it was nice to get the wins after we kind of cooled off a little bit."
White Sox starter Jose Quintana was ejected with two outs in the fourth inning for throwing behind Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up one run and one hit for the no-decision. Nate Jones got the win for tossing two scoreless innings of relief and Addison Reed later picked up his sixth save with a scoreless ninth.
Chicago will begin a nine-game homestand tonight versus the Mariners, Blue Jays and Astros, and hopes Jake Peavy can keep his unbeaten streak going Friday night. Peavy is 3-0 with a 5.04 earned run average in his last four starts and held on for a win over Cleveland the last time out in a 14-7 decision on Saturday. He permitted a season-high seven runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out a season-best nine batters with just one walk.
Peavy improved to 3-1 in five home starts and is 6-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 10 overall starts in 2012. The right-hander, who won the 2007 NL Cy Young Award with San Diego, has made seven career starts against the Mariners, going 5-1 with a 2.12 ERA.
The White Sox won two of three games in Seattle from April 20-22 this season and are 19-3 in the past 22 matchups between the teams. Chicago is 14-2 as the host in this series since 2008.