After an inconsistent start to the season, Seattle right- hander Felix Hernandez seems to have gotten his groove back. Tonight, he goes after his third straight win when the Mariners continue a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field.
Hernandez has been brilliant over his last three starts, going 2-0, while allowing just two runs in 23 innings with 30 strikeouts. He looked like the pitcher who won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award on Thursday against Boston, as he matched a career-high with 13 strikeouts in a five-hit shutout.
"I feel more comfortable because I'm now pitching pretty good," Hernandez said. "Before I was not doing good. I said, 'I've got to do better than this.' That's why I was so mad, because I was not doing my job. Now I'm turning it back around and my performance is good. I've got to keep it going."
Hernandez has faced the Orioles 13 times and is 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with impressive Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who is 7-4 with a 3.73 ERA. Chen lost his second straight start on Thursday to Cleveland, as he surrendered six runs and six hits in 6 1/3 frames.
"Every day, you've got a different feel for your pitches," Chen said. "Today, I just didn't feel it."
This will be his first appearance against the Mariners.
Seattle drew first blood in this series on Monday, as Casper Wells' three-run double in the seventh inning lifted Seattle to a 6-3 win. Miguel Olivo and Dustin Ackley hit back-to-back homers in the eighth while Brendan Ryan drove in the other run for the Mariners, who had lost five of eight coming in.
Hisashi Iwakuma gave up three runs on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts over five innings of work for Seattle. Steve Delabar (2-1) pitched two hitless innings for the win.
Chris Davis' three-run home run accounted for all the runs for the Orioles, who have dropped six of their last seven. Jason Hammel (8-4) was touched for four runs on seven hits with two walks and eight strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in defeat.
"You'd like to carry some momentum into the All-Star break," said Hammel. "Right now it's kind of a tough go. You just got to keep plugging along and find a way. It's definitely frustrating for me 'cause I did pitch so well and to give it up in the seventh inning there, it really could've changed the momentum if we walk away with a 'W' here."
Baltimore, which took four of six from the Mariners last season, needs only one win to ensure a winning record at the All-Star break for the first time since 2005.