Wakamatsu had a heart-to-heart talk with his talented pitcher and the results since have been phenomenal.
Hernandez threw his fifth straight outstanding game as he tossed a two-hitter against San Diego on Tuesday night to lead the Mariners to a 5-0 win, handing the Padres a record 12th straight interleague loss.
Since allowing six runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 loss on May 19 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Hernandez has given up one earned run or less in five straight starts. Hernandez is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.72 in that stretch, having allowed just three runs in 37 2-3 innings.
“From that point on, I’ve seen a different pitcher,” Wakamatsu said.
Hernandez pitched with ease in shutting down the Padres for his third career shutout and sixth career complete game.
“I felt pretty good tonight,” Hernandez said. “All the pitches felt pretty good. I had great command.”
San Diego set a major-league record with its 12th straight loss in interleague play to snap a tie with the New York Mets. The Padres have lost four straight interleague games this season and last won in 2007. San Diego is 5-22 in interleague games since June 20, 2007.
Seattle won its ninth straight game at Petco Park but it was the Mariners’ first interleague win of the season after being swept over the weekend in a three-game set at Colorado.
Hernandez (7-3) allowed only a leadoff single to Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) in the third inning and Tony Gwynn(notes) Jr.’s leadoff single in the ninth. Kouzmanoff got to third with two outs but Hernandez retired Luis Rodriguez(notes) on a fly ball.
Hernandez struck out six, walked three and hit a batter against San Diego, which was shut out for the second straight game.
“He was ready to pitch, he was focused,” said Wakamatsu, who added he would have replaced Hernandez in the ninth if he had not retired Brian Giles(notes) on a two-out grounder with runners on first and second.
“I would have had to rip him off the mound,” Wakamatsu joked. When told of Wakamatsu’s remarks, Hernandez said, “Huh? Heck no, nope.”
During their 12-game interleague losing streak, the Padres have been outscored 77-28. San Diego, coming off a three-game sweep against the Angels, have lost 12 of 16 games overall.
“(Hernandez) was throwing four pitches for strikes,” said San Diego’s Chase Headley(notes). “When a guy does that it’s tough anyway. But when a guy who has above average stuff does it, it makes it even tougher.”
Kevin Correia(notes) (3-5) had won his previous two starts but the two home runs he allowed were too much to overcome. Gutierrez homered in the third and Beltre hit his home run in the seventh for the only two hits allowed by Correia, who tied his career high by pitching eight innings.
“I threw a couple of mistakes to these two guys,” he said. “I just ran into a hot pitcher right now.”
The Padres have 11 more interleague games before facing an NL opponent on June 29 when they’re at home against Houston.
NOTES: Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez(notes) went 0-for-4 and has gone 11 games without home run, his longest homerless drought of the season. Gonzalez has 22 homers. … Correia’s only other start where he has pitched eight innings was on Aug. 26, 2005 against the New York Mets. … Griffey started in LF for the third straight game and it was only his seventh career appearance in left field in 2,570 games. … Seattle’s Russell Branyan is expected to miss Thursday’s day game against San Diego to attend his grandfather’s funeral. He is expected to be in Seattle in time for Friday night’s game against Arizona.