Felix Hernandez was as good as can be the last time he took the mound, tossing the majors’ third perfect game this season and the first in Seattle Mariners history.
He was anything but perfect the last time he faced the Cleveland Indians.
Hernandez looks to help Seattle win its season high-tying seventh straight game while running his personal unbeaten streak to 13 and avenging one of his season’s worst outings when the Mariners host the slumping Indians on Tuesday night.
The superstar known as King Felix struck out 12 and retired all 27 hitters in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Tampa Bay, joining Chicago’s Philip Humber and San Francisco’s Matt Cain in tossing perfect games in 2012.
Hernandez (11-5, 2.60 ERA) hasn’t lost since June 12 while going 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA over his last 12 starts.
“Just keep throwing the way I’ve been throwing,” Hernandez said. “Just do my job. Try and help my team to win. That’s what is next.”
The right-hander, though, wasn’t nearly as good the last time he faced Cleveland, giving up a season-high eight runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss May 16. He was 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his previous three starts versus the Indians, tossing eight scoreless innings in Seattle’s 2-1 loss April 19.
This time, Hernandez will look to help Seattle (59-64) win for the 14th time in 15 tries at Safeco Field after it beat Cleveland 5-3 on Monday.
Michael Saunders hit a pair of two-run homers for the Mariners, who can match their season-best seven-game winning streak set July 26-Aug. 1 with a victory Tuesday.
Saunders is 8 for 16 with three homers over his last four games after going 1 for 35 over his previous eight.
“Baseball is a grind, it’s a process,” Saunders said. “I just have to believe in my process. The slump was longer than I hoped for but there’s going to be ups and downs in this game.”
Cleveland has experienced mostly downs lately.
The Indians (54-68) have dropped six straight and 19 of their last 23 following Monday’s defeat. They’ve also lost 16 of 17 on the road.
Jason Kipnis hit a two-run homer and said the team held a players-only meeting prior to the game but refused to discuss the details.
“We’ve got to play better baseball,” Kipnis told the team’s official website. “Offense, defense, pitching, everything. We’ve got to play better. It’s not a lack of effort. It’s not a lack of concentration. The team’s out there trying, fighting.”
Cleveland will look to end its stretch of futility with the help of Roberto Hernandez, who will be making his second start of the season.
Hernandez (0-1, 7.50), formerly known as Fausto Carmona, had a rough season debut Wednesday, giving up eight runs in six innings of an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
The right-hander was reinstated by the Indians after visa issues prevented him from entering the U.S. He was charged with having dual identities in his native Dominican Republic.
“It felt good. I was throwing every pitch, trying to make it go down and get ground balls,” Hernandez told the team’s official website. “I left a little bit up, tried to throw a few strikes, left them up and they hit them.”
Despite Monday’s defeat, the Indians have won 12 of the last 16 meetings with the Mariners in Seattle.