There haven't been many teams to give Felix Hernandez trouble this season. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, though, have been one of them. On Saturday, the Angels try to hand the Seattle ace his first loss in almost three months as they continue a three-game set at Safeco Field.
Hernandez is 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 17 walks in 14 starts since losing to San Diego on June 12. He has followed up his perfect game with two more spectacular efforts, including a five-hit shutout on Monday in Minnesota that ran his record to 13-5 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 2.43.
He leads the American League in ERA, shutouts (five) and innings pitched (196 2/3).
"I've been consistent the last two months," said Hernandez, who will be trying to win four straight starts since a five-game run Sept. 13-Oct. 4, 2009. "I've been trying to throw strikes, been trying to get ahead of every hitter and mix all my pitches."
However, the Angels have given the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner some problems this season. Hernandez is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts against them. He is 6-10 lifetime against them with a 3.85 ERA in 27 starts.
"We've seen a lot of him," Angels skipper Mike Scioscia said. "When you see a pitcher more, and not that it makes it any easier hitting a guy with his stuff, but you certainly get an idea about what some of his tendencies are and it might help you lay off a pitch once in a while or do something with a pitch. He's tough, man. He's tough. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason why you hit a guy. But we've been fortunate to have held our own against him."
Scioscia's team received a terrific pitching performance of their own in Friday's opener, as Dan Haren allowed an unearned run over seven strong innings to help the Angels get past Seattle, 9-1.
Haren (9-10) scattered five hits and struck out three without walking a batter to snap a four-start winless skid.
"When he got the lead, he just pounded the zone, made pitches and seven strong innings is great to see," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of his starter.
Kendrys Morales clubbed a three-homer and knocked in four overall, Bobby Wilson smacked a two-run shot, and Torii Hunter registered four hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Angels, who won their fourth straight contest.
Kevin Millwood (4-12) was charged for five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and four walks over five frames.
John Jaso knocked in the lone run for Seattle, which had an eight-game home winning streak stopped and fell for only the second time in 17 home contests.
"We just didn't have a good day as a ball club...just one of those days," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "You play this many games, every now and again you're going to have a tough one and we just didn't have it today."
Getting the call for the Angels on Saturday will be righty Ervin Santana, who lost for the first time in six starts on Sunday in Detroit. The Tigers reached him for four runs and five hits in seven innings of that one, dropping Santana to 7-11 to go along with a 5.45 ERA.
Santana is 11-7 in 28 starts versus the Mariners with a 3.99 ERA.
Anaheim has won six in a row at Seattle.