On April 21, Felix Hernandez threw a complete game to beat the Orioles. In his next seven starts, Hernandez went winless despite holding opponents to two earned runs or fewer in four of those games. Thursday King Felix ended that skid by throwing eight innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run while tying a season-high with nine strikeouts.
Hernandez finished off his night in style, striking out four - you read that right... FOUR! - in the 8th inning tonight. He's the first to do it since Luke Gregerson and Ryan Dempster BOTH did in Oct. 4, 2009. He's the first Mariners pitcher to do it since Kazuhiro Sasaki on April 4, 2003. We break down how Hernandez got it done in this edition of The Closer.
Why Felix Hernandez won:
- Induced a season-high 25 at-bats ending in a fastball and three hits (tied for second-fewest) in those at-bats; six fastball strikeouts also a season-high
- Finished off 14 of 15 batters that reached two strikes (93 percent; MLB avg is 72)
- Of 31 batters faced, zero reached a 2-0 count and just three reached a 3-ball count (one walk, no hits)
Why Jered Weaver won:
- Curveball averaged only 70.8 mph, compared to his fastball at 90.6. That's the biggest differential between the two in any start this year. He recorded 16 swings-and-misses, 10 of those on fastballs which hitters had trouble catching up to.
- Threw a full 60% of his pitches either down in the strike zone or below it. That's his second-most in a start this season. Recorded as many ground balls as fly balls (eight each), the first time that's happened in five starts. Ten swings-and-misses were also on low pitches.
- Held Royals batters to 1-for-19 (.053) when even or Weaver was ahead in the count. That exactly matches the same numbers from his last start on May 29.
- Nine strikeouts, all swinging - his most in a victory this season.
Why Josh Johnson won:
- Hitters were 2-13 with four of his eight total K against slider (3-25 with seven of 14 total K over last 3 starts)
- 70 percent first-pitch strikes (MLB avg is 58); sixth time in 12 starts with at least 70 percent first-pitch strikes
- Of 30 batters faced, he went to a 2-0 count three times and 3-ball count four times
Why Freddy Garcia won:
- Threw 63 percent of pitches away, inducing hitters to go 2-16 with all four of his strikeouts on that outer third
- Against pitches out of the strike zone, hitters chased 36 percent of the time (his 2nd-highest this season) and were 3-16 (including 1-11 when out of the zone and away)
- Of 30 batters faced, he went to a 2-0 count three times and 17 batters (57 percent; MLB avg is 47) saw three pitches or less