Every five days, Felix Hernandez makes Seattle just so much better.
King Felix dominated the Yankees in their own ballpark again, helping the light-hitting, last-place Mariners look like world beaters by pitching a two-hitter for his third shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over New York 1-0 on a sticky, sunny Saturday.
"That’s probably the best start I’ve seen as a manager," Seattle’s Eric Wedge said. "In a 1-0 ballgame, he knows one pitch can be the ballgame. That was just special stuff to watch today. What you saw today, you’re not going to see anything better than that."
It’s one of the best starts the Bronx has seen from a visiting pitcher in a while. According to Baseball-reference.com, the last pitcher to win a 1-0 complete game at either Yankee Stadium was Cleveland’s Greg Swindell in September 1988.
The last pitcher to win 1-0 while allowing two hits or less in the Yankees’ ballpark was Baltimore’s Jim Palmer, who pitched a two-hitter on June 1, 1978.
Hernandez (10-5) outdid Hiroki Kuroda in a duel of pitchers who hadn’t lost since June. Mike Carp hit an RBI single in the second inning for Seattle, which bounced back from having its seven-game winning streak ended the night before. The Yankees have lost 10 of 15.
After Robinson Cano doubled with two outs in the first, Hernandez didn’t allow a runner to second. Only seven balls were even hit out of the infield — all to center until Derek Jeter flied out to right field for the second out of the ninth.
"Even on a Felix day, I still figured there’d be some better swings out there, and there were a couple balls hit hard, but that was outstanding," Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "That changeup, it defies science."
It was the All-Star right-hander’s second shutout in five starts at the new Yankee Stadium. Hernandez has the ballpark’s lowest career ERA of any pitcher with at least two starts there. He lowered his ERA to 1.13 in the stadium that opened in 2009. He beat the Yankees 7-0 in the Bronx on June 30, 2010.
On Saturday, he faced the top of the Yankees order in the ninth and retired Curtis Granderson, Jeter and Cano in order, fanning Cano to end the game in a breezy 2 hours, 32 minutes.
"The thing was, he was never in any bad counts, really. I think he had one or two walks," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You look, he threw about a ball a hitter, so he was never in any bad counts."
Overall, it was the seventh career shutout for the All-Star right-hander. Hernandez struck out six and walked two — both with two outs.
"I hate that," Hernandez said. "When you get a quick two outs and then you walk somebody."
It was about all he or the Mariners had to complain about, even with Kuroda being his stingy self.
Kuroda (10-8) left in the seventh after he hit Ryan with a pitch following a one-out double by Eric Thames. The Mariners shortstop went down on the plate and stayed there for a while, before he walked to the dugout with a trainer gingerly holding his left arm steady. Munenori Kawasaki pinch-ran, but he and Thames were stranded when Boone Logan retired Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders.
Kuroda gave up seven hits and a walk, with four strikeouts for his first loss since June 19. He went 4-0 in seven starts in between.
Carp’s single scored the first run Kuroda has allowed in a day game this season, ending a run of 31 scoreless innings. He stranded seven Mariners runners.
Seattle left two on in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. The Mariners had runners on first and third with one out in the sixth, but Kyle Seager popped up and Casper Wells grounded out.
The Mariners’ .233 team average is third from last in the major leagues.
"He was better than us," Jeter said. "That’s pretty much all you can say."
Notes: Hernandez’s last loss was June 12 against San Diego. … New York’s Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the third, giving him exactly 11 hits during the streak. … The Yankees hosted a drive to sign up people for a database of potential bone-marrow donors. Volunteers collected swabs of DNA from inside fans’ cheeks before and during the game. … Former Mariners starter Freddy Garcia (4-5) will pitch Sunday for the Yankees against Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (2-2) in a matchup of right-handers.