First Pitch: Freddy vs. Felix


When he was ready to sign out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old pitcher, Felix Hernandez had his choice of teams with which to sign.

He was a big kid with a great fastball and lots of promise.

He chose Seattle. Why? Well, in part it was because his idol, Freddy Garcia, was the Mariners’ ace at the time. Garcia, also from Venezuela, was built along the same lines as Hernandez.

The two became buddies during a couple of spring trainings, but they never had a chance to pitch on the same staff. Or to duel each other, either.

That ends tonight in Safeco Field when Garcia (4-3, 5.37) goes for the Yankees against Hernandez (8-5, 2.82) and the Seattle Mariners.

"Freddy was the first guy I met when I came to Safeco the first time," Hernandez said recently. "He was my idol then. And he still is."

Garcia texted Hernandez the other day, saying "Dude, we’re going to pitch together."

It’s not going to be easy for Garcia. He faces Hernandez in the midst of King Felix’s hottest streak of the year -- 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in his last seven starts. He’s allowed two runs in his last 24.2 innings.

Garcia, who will be making his ninth start (and 19th appearance) of the season for the Yankees, has a winning record (4-3) but not a winning ERA (5.37).

He has done all right against his old team, however, owning a 5-3 record against Seattle, including a 4-2 road record in Safeco Field.

Robertson checks out: David Robertson gave the Yankees a scare when he seemed to develop an ankle injury while delivering an eighth-inning pitch Monday to the Mariners’ Dustin Ackley. After the game, however, Robertson said he just caught his spike, and that while he was momentarily scared, he was fine.