Hernandez in groove in Mariners' shutout

Dhiren Mabiban, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Seattle manager Eric Wedge has had the pleasure of watching Felix Hernandez dominate hitters for more than two seasons. And after eight shutout innings from his ace on Friday night, Wedge admitted that he was still fascinated with Hernandez's stuff.
"I'm really impressed with the way he sustains his delivery and the consistency with his release point," Wedge said. "Right along with that, the way he`s spotting his fastball and everything was working off that."
Hernandez (4-2) struck out seven and allowed five hits as Seattle beat Toronto 4-0 at the Rogers Centre to open a three-game series.
After going 1-2 with a 3.05 ERA in his first three outings, Hernandez has turned it around, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.82 ERA in his past three outings entering Friday.
"I`m being aggressive and throwing a lot of strikes and that`s the key for me," said Hernandez, who threw 63 of his 95 pitches for strikes. "Get ahead of the hitters and make my pitches. I had a good sinker and we got a lot of double plays."
Seattle (14-17) has won six of its last eight games. Toronto (10-20) has lost nine of its last 11.
Jason Bay extended his hitting streak to seven games in the win. Bay, a native of Trail, British Columbia, took Aaron Loup's first offering in the sixth over the right-field wall for his third home run of the season, a solo shot that gave Seattle a 4-0 lead.
The seven-game hitting streak matches Bay's longest streak since April 2012 when he was a member of the New York Mets.
Three batters later, Jose Bautista gave the 23,779 in attendance something to cheer about when he robbed Jesus Montero of extra bases making a nice grab up against the wall.
After moving Adam Lind to the No. 2 spot in the order on Thursday, Jays manager John Gibbons said he was done tinkering with his lineup. But Gibbons moved Melky Cabrera from the sixth spot to the second for Friday's series opener.
"We're kind of reverting back to the beginning of the season getting Melky in there," Gibbons said before the game. "That's kind of the way we designed it. He's here for a reason. He's always been at the top of the line-up. It's been a battle. Nothing's been easy.
"It's been a struggle. We'll see what happens. He gets a lot of hits."
Cabrera finished 1 for 4 and Lind went 1 for 3.
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero made his season debut after being called up from Class A Dunedin, where he made one start while focusing on his mechanics.
Romero worked on pitching with a more direct line to the plate. Blue Jays roving pitching coach Dane Johnson said Romero also changed his delivery so he no longer has his hands above his head in an effort to prevent him from throwing across his body as he did previously.
"It took me a couple days cause I had so much anger, disappointment and stuff like that. I prepared myself so good in the off-season to kind of be ready for spring training and I was disappointed in myself," Romero said. "From day one, (roving pitching coach) Dane Johnson told me you're going to commit to this or you're not and if you don't then who knows what's going to happen with you."
Romero, 28, started well, striking out three while allowing one hit through the first three innings.
"It felt like the guy that I'd been working on the past month in Florida," Romero said. "I felt good, had some good stuff, had a lot of live movement on the fastballs."
Seattle got to Romero in the fourth, scoring three times.
After a leadoff walk to Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager took Romero deep to right field for his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot giving the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
Romero then hit Kendrys Morales, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. After striking out Mike Morse, Romero walked Bay and Justin Smoak to load the bases.
Dustin Ackley gave the Mariners a 3-0 lead when his single to right scored Morse.
After the Ackley at-bat, Romero took a Montero comebacker off his forearm. He finished the inning but admitted there was some soreness.
"It's a little stiff right now," he said. "It hit me on a really good spot and it got a little swollen. Hopefully, it's just a little minor contusion and we're able to play catch tomorrow and it'll be fine."
Romero worked four innings, allowing three earned runs and three hits while striking out four. He threw 70 pitches, 38 for strikes.
"He ran into some trouble there in that last inning with a couple walks and he hit a guy," Gibbons said, "but overall I thought he can feel good about that outing, it's something to build off of."
NOTES: Saunders, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, had three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in his previous eight visits to Toronto. ... Morse has home runs in three of his last four games entering Friday and came in tied for first in the American League with nine. ... The Mariners sent third-base coach John Stearns back to Triple-A Tacoma and replaced him with Daren Brown. ... After the Blue Jays dropped two of three games to the Boston Red Sox, manager John Gibbons was candid Friday when asked if there's anything the team can carry forward from the previous series. "To be honest with you, no. We lost two out of three." ... Toronto had lost eight of 10 entering the three-game series with Seattle. ... The Blue Jays designated right-handed pitcher Justin Germano for assignment on Friday.

What to Read Next