Felix Hernandez might have opened the season as the Seattle Mariners’ No. 2 starter, but with their newest pitching acquisition battling an injury, the young right-hander has a chance to fill the role of the staff ace.
Hernandez looks to lead the Mariners to their second straight victory when they open a two-game road set against the AL West rival Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
Hernandez went 14-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 30 starts during 2007—his second full season in the majors. The 22-year-old, though, was relegated to the second spot in the rotation after the Mariners (7-8) acquired Erik Bedard from Baltimore in a six-player trade in February.
Seattle, though, placed Bedard on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his left hip on Tuesday. While the left-hander’s condition is improving, the Mariners are expected to be without him until at least April 24.
The Mariners will have right-hander R.A. Dickey take Bedard’s next start this weekend, but they’ll be hoping Hernandez (1-0, 1.66 ERA) can be dominant in his absence as the club starts a five-game road trip.
In his last outing, Hernandez earned his first win by giving up four runs and striking out seven in 6 2-3 innings of Friday’s 8-5 home victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
He has also pitched well against the Athletics (9-6), going 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA in eight career starts and winning each of his last four matchups against them—a span in which he has posted a 1.29 ERA.
Hernandez has also been successful at McAfee Coliseum, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts there. A’s shortstop Bobby Crosby is 0-for-9 in his career against the right-hander.
Seattle heads into its road swing after winning three of five at home, including an 11-6 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday. The Mariners totaled 13 hits and posted a season high in runs.
Jose Lopez had a career high-tying four RBIs, and became the 12th player in major league history to hit three sacrifice flies in a game.
“Yeah, pretty cool,” said Lopez, who tied Edgar Martinez as the only other Mariner to have three sacrifice flies in a game. “I’ve just been listening to the manager: ‘Get the base hit. Get the long fly ball. Get the RBI.’”
The Mariners hope their offensive surge continues at McAfee Coliseum, where they were 8-1 last season and won each of the last six meetings.
Seattle went 14-5 against the A’s, and look to win five straight overall against them for the first time since June 21-Sept. 22, 1998.
The A’s, 3-4 in Oakland, return for an eight-game homestand after going 6-2 on a road trip that concluded with a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
“We played great,” Crosby told the A’s official Web site. “We played three really good teams (Toronto, Cleveland and Chicago) and came out 6-2. That’s pretty quality.”
They’re hoping Joe Blanton (1-2, 4.15) can provide them with a strong outing. The right-hander was reached for five runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings, but earned his first victory in a 9-7 win at Cleveland on Friday.
Blanton is 7-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 career starts versus the Mariners, but struggled against them last season, going 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA in four outings.
He is also 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA in seven home matchups against them, losing each of the last two there.