If Felix Hernandez is to build on a strong opening day performance, he must find a way to achieve some rare success at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Seattle ace hopes to turn things around on Chicago's south side Saturday and lead the Mariners to a second straight win over the White Sox for the first time in three-and-a-half years.
Hernandez allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked one in 7 2-3 innings of Monday's 2-0 win at Oakland. It was the ideal way to start the season for Hernandez, who went 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA in his final six starts of 2012.
"I was hoping to get us started the right way," said Hernandez, who turns 27 on Monday. "It's pretty special.''
The 2010 AL Cy Young award winner looked worthy of the $175 million, seven-year contract he signed in February.
"Opening Day, midseason, you really can't tell the difference," Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan told the team's official website. "He's such a competitor and I just love the way he gets excited out there when guys are making plays behind him. Most of the time we don't because he's making guys miss. You always feel good about your chances when he's out there."
Hernandez, however, is 1-4 with a 4.75 ERA in seven career starts at Chicago. He's 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in his last three there since giving up four hits and striking out nine in eight innings of a 9-1 win April 28, 2009.
Seattle (3-2) won for the fifth time in 29 games against the White Sox with Friday's 8-7 victory in 10 innings. The Mariners last won consecutive games versus Chicago (2-2) on Sept. 16-17, 2009. They've not won a series at U.S. Cellular since 2007.
"We don't look at that. We've got a completely different cast of characters here,'' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
"What we're trying to do is win series, and you get that first win of a series and it goes a long way heading in the right direction.''
Franklin Gutierrez had three hits with a homer and three RBIs, and Kendrys Morales and Jesus Montero each drove in 10th-inning runs as the Mariners snapped a four-game skid at Chicago. The White Sox overcame a 6-1 deficit, but left the bases loaded in the 10th.
Healthy after injuries limited him to 132 games the previous two seasons, Gutierrez is 7 for 17 with two home runs and six RBIs. He's 11 for 24 in his last six games versus Chicago.
Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza each homered and drove in two runs for the White Sox.
"The good part about (Friday) is it's over, basically,'' said Chicago slugger Adam Dunn, who is 3 for 16 with homer and six strikeouts. "We'll come out (Saturday) and hopefully get 'em.''
Rios is 6 for 15 on the season and batting .381 (16 for 42) with two homers and 10 RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak against the Mariners.
With John Danks on the disabled list while recovering from shoulder surgery, Dylan Axelrod will make his first appearance against the Mariners on Saturday. The right-hander went 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 starts over the last two seasons for Chicago.