King Felix and poor Liam Hendriks
By David Schoenfiel
Remember when some idiot suggested the Mariners should trade Felix Hernandez?
Back on June 12, the Padres knocked out Hernandez in the sixth inning in a game at Safeco Field, dropping Hernandez to a 4-5 record and 3.70 ERA. Considering runs at Safeco Field early in the season were more scarce than a good piece of coconut cream pie, that translated to, “Umm, is something wrong with King Felix?”
Well, since then he’s made 14 starts and is 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA and five shutouts. He’s the first pitcher with five shutouts in a 12-game span sinceRandy Johnson in 1998 and the only second since Orel Hershiser and Roger Clemens did it in 1988. Impressively, three of those shutouts came against the three highest-scoring teams in the American League in the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees. The fourth was a perfect game. The fifth was Monday night in Minnesota, in which he set a career high with 18 groundball outs.
Maybe most amazing: Four of those shutouts were 1-0 victories. Wow. Talk about no margin for error. He’s the first pitcher to record four 1-0 shutouts in a season since Bert Blyleven in 1976. (Since 1920, according to ESPN Stats & Info, only two pitchers have five: Dean Chance in 1964 and Carl Hubbell in 1933.)
Anyway, Hernandez’s win over Liam Hendriks and the Twins prompted this email from Greg Sukiennik, an editor here at ESPN.com:
- Poor Liam Hendriks.
No one is nominating the Twins’ right-hander for inclusion in the Harvey Haddix tough luck Hall of Fame, but the Aussie, who has scuffled to a 6.02 ERA in 10 starts this season, has to be wondering what it’s going to take to finally get his first big-league win.
Hendriks produced his best start of the season against the Mariners. He went the distance, allowing only one run on three hits and striking out six. An eighth-inning home run by Eric Thames was his only blemish. It wasn’t enough. Because if you’re going to beat Felix Hernandez on the mound the way he’s been pitching since July, you’d better hold the Mariners scoreless.
Meet the pitchers who share Hendriks’ misfortune: They earned losses or no-decisions to Hernandez and the Mariners despite giving up one run or less.
Aug. 27 at Twins
Liam Hendricks, MIN: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Top 8th: Eric Thames (.253 BA, .421 SLG) homers with 0 out.
Twins: 0-5 RISP, 5 LOB
FELIX: 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 Ks
Aug. 15 vs. Rays
Jeremy Hellickson, TAM: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Brendan Ryan (.199 BA) singles, steals 2nd, advances to 3rd on wild pitch, scores on Jesus Montero single.
Rays: 1-3 RISP, 5 LOB
FELIX: Perfect Game, 12 Ks
July 24th vs. Yankees
Hiroki Kuroda, NYY: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4K
Top 2nd: John Jaso doubles, takes third on ground out; Mike Carp (.217 BA) singles home Jaso.
Yankees: 0-1 RISP, 3 LOB
FELIX: 2 hits, 2 walks, 6 Ks
June 28 vs. Red Sox
Franklin Morales, BOS: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Leaves scoreless game after 7 with no-decision; Scott Atchison allows game-winning run in bottom 9th.
Red Sox: 0-5 RISP, 6 LOB
FELIX: 5 hits, 1 walk, 13 Ks
You often hear announcers say something stuff like “he can carry a team.” It’s certainly an overused expression. But it’s safe to say that every fifth day, at least the past two months, Felix has carried the Mariners.