The Seattle Mariners snapped a four-game skid in their opener in Detroit, and they have to feel awfully confident about securing a series victory with the man they'll send to the mound next.
Coming off a 12-strikeout effort, Felix Hernandez looks to become the first pitcher in almost 10 years to win a ninth straight decision against the Tigers on Wednesday night.
Seattle (8-10) lost six of nine on a homestand prior to arriving in Detroit, including their last four while totaling eight runs. The offense broke out at Comerica Park on Tuesday, pounding out a season-high 15 hits in a 7-4 victory.
"Our team did a pretty good job putting pressure on the pitcher," said infielder Alex Liddi, who had a career-high three hits. "Every inning, we had somebody on base, so it was a really good game for us."
It was the Mariners' sixth win in eight games against Detroit (10-7) - all in the Motor City - and now they'll turn to the pitcher who's been responsible for tormenting the Tigers for even longer. Hernandez is 8-0 with a 3.05 ERA in his last nine starts in the series, posting quality starts in his last seven without allowing a homer in 47 2-3 innings.
With a victory Wednesday, Hernandez will become the first pitcher since Brad Radke to win nine decisions in a row against Detroit. Radke ultimately did it 12 straight times, from Aug. 25, 2000 to April 10, 2004. His ninth one in that stretch came Sept. 17, 2002.
Hernandez (1-1, 2.76 ERA) only faced one team - the A's - in his first three outings this season, and he turned in his best performance so far when he finally saw someone else. The right-hander held the Indians to five hits and struck out 12 over eight scoreless innings Thursday, but Brandon League couldn't close it as the Mariners lost 2-1.
"Felix was incredible tonight," manager Eric Wedge said. "... Just a tremendous effort."
Though Hernandez has fared very well against the Tigers throughout his career, Miguel Cabrera is 9 for 18 with three walks when facing the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Cabrera homered Tuesday and is 12 for 29 (.414) over his last seven games.
Detroit's offense may need to provide a decent amount of support if it plans on winning with Adam Wilk (0-2, 4.00) on the hill. The rookie left-hander gave up only three hits - thought two were homers - while lasting five innings in his first career start April 14, but he allowed 10 hits and three runs while only getting through four in Thursday's 10-3 loss to Texas.
Wilk has actually pitched in the same game as Hernandez before, giving up a two-run homer to Justin Smoak in the ninth inning of a 7-3 Seattle win at Comerica on June 12. Hernandez went eight in that contest before League pitched the ninth.
League hasn't allowed a run to the Tigers in 16 appearances spanning 18 innings dating to September 2006.
Liddi started at first base Tuesday with Smoak dealing with soreness in his right hamstring, but Smoak should be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Detroit should hope he needs a few more days to recover. Smoak hit five of his 15 homers last season against the Tigers, including four at Comerica.