Felix Hernandez may be thrilled to see a different opponent for once this season.
The Cleveland Indians may not be as excited to see the former AL Cy Young Award winner as they hope to re-establish their offensive momentum.
Hernandez looks to lead the Seattle Mariners to their first series win over the Indians at Safeco Field in nine years Thursday night.
All three of Hernandez’s starts on the season have come against Oakland, and he’s gone 1-1 with a 3.80 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 1-3 innings.
The hard-throwing right-hander was the hard-luck loser in his most recent outing Friday. He allowed two runs - both in the third - and seven hits with six strikeouts in seven innings, while the Mariners (7-6) mustered three hits in a 4-0 defeat to the A’s.
“I’m not happy about the performance, but it was just a couple mistakes I made and gave up those two runs and that cost us the game right there,” Hernandez told the team’s official website. “We lost, that was the bad part.”
Hernandez hasn’t done much losing against Cleveland (5-5) recently, winning five of his last seven starts behind a 2.12 ERA while fanning 55 in 46 2-3 innings. He’s won the last two while yielding two runs with 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.
Seattle could use another strong effort from the two-time All-Star in order to beat the Indians for the fifth time in six tries. A victory would also give the Mariners their first series win against them at home since sweeping a three-game set from April 22-24, 2003.
They put themselves in position to do that by beating Cleveland 4-1 on Wednesday after blowing a seven-run, fifth-inning lead to fall 9-8 in the series opener.
Ichiro Suzuki has four hits and four RBIs in the last three games, including a solo homer for his first of the season Wednesday. The All-Star right fielder has hit safely in seven straight meetings with the Indians, compiling a .375 average with two homers and seven RBIs as the Mariners have won five of them.
Cleveland had its four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday during its worst offensive performance of the young season. The team’s run production and four hits were both season lows and a dramatic drop off from the .321 average and 47 runs over the previous five contests.
The Indians will turn to right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-1, 8.31 ERA), who has been an option out of the bullpen lately due to rain and days off.
“He’s a guy who knows what to do to get ready,” manager Manny Acta told the team’s official website.
Tomlin’s last appearance came in relief after starter Jeanmar Gomez and Acta were ejected in the third inning after the right-hander hit a batter in an 11-9, 10-inning win at Kansas City on Saturday. Tomlin went 3 2-3 innings, allowing five runs and six hits.
Gomez was suspended five games for the incident, but will appeal the decision and make his scheduled start Saturday at Oakland.
Tomlin hasn’t started a game since making his season debut April 9, giving up four runs and seven hits - two home runs - with seven strikeouts in five innings of a 4-2 loss to Chicago.
He’s won two of three starts against the Mariners despite a 6.23 ERA.