SEATTLE (AP) — It wasn’t lost on Chris Nelson that Felix Hernandez was the one he took deep to provide the Los Angeles Angels all their offense.
“It was huge because you know he is not going to give up a lot. History just tells us we’re not going to score a bunch of runs,” Nelson said.
Nelson hit a two-run homer off Hernandez and the Angels ruined Eric Wedge’s return to the dugout with a 2-0 victory over the Mariners on Friday night.
Wedge managed the Mariners for the first time since he had a mild stroke a month ago. He acknowledged being anxious about getting back on the bench and called his ailment “a heads up.”
Then Wedge watched his offense be unable to solve Garrett Richards (4-5) and a pair of relievers who combined on a five-hitter for the Angels.
“As the game wore on I felt more and more comfortable and then by the end of the game I felt like I was right there,” Wedge said. “I wasn’t sure how the energy was going to be, but my energy was good and the focus was good. Just didn’t have a whole hell of a lot of action tonight.”
Nelson snapped an 0-for-17 slide when he connected in the second for his third homer. Josh Hamilton scored on Nelson’s long ball after leading off the inning with a single, and it was the only time Hernandez (12-7) was touched all night.
The biggest problem for Hernandez was the gem Richards was tossing on the other side.
“Richards throw an unbelievable game, so you got to give credit to that,” Hernandez said.
Richards (4-5) struck out four and walked two in 7 1-3 innings, but was forced out of the game after taking a liner off his right forearm. The right-hander had thrown just 89 pitches and was in line for a career performance before leaving.
Dustin Ackley led off the eighth with a shot back to the mound that caught Richards and deflected to shortstop Erick Aybar, who threw to first for the out. Manager Mike Scioscia immediately went to the mound and Richards was replaced by Dane De La Rosa.
The Angels said Richards had a forearm contusion. De La Rosa finished off the eighth and Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his 27th save.
Richards said the ball only grazed him, avoided his elbow and he should be fine to make his next start.
“I didn’t have my sharpest stuff in the beginning and as the game went on I got a feel for the breaking ball and the extension on my fastball,” Richards said. “I was just filling up the zone and throwing quality strikes and going right at guys.”
Wedge’s month off was filled with doctor’s appointments and meetings, researching and relaxing, with the goal of figuring out why he had suffered a stroke at 45 years old and how to prevent it from happening again.
“It’s a shot across the bow, it’s a mulligan, it’s a heads up,” Wedge said before the game. “And I’m taking it as such.”
Hernandez was handed consecutive losses for the third time this season, even though he was cruising in his final innings. But a taxing fourth inning where he had to throw 29 pitches and left runners stranded on the corners ended up equaling an early exit. Hernandez struck out Grant Green to end the threat in the fourth, and then struck out four of the final six batters he faced. He recorded 10 strikeouts for the 25th time in his career and the fourth time this season.
Seattle finally got multiple runners on base in the same inning when Brad Miller led off the sixth with a single and Kyle Seager walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out. Richards quickly defused the threat, getting Kendrys Morales to ground into a double play. He also got Endy Chavez to ground into a double play to end the seventh after Justin Smoak singled.
“He was not ahead of hitters tonight — his first-ball strike ratio was not good — but his stuff played,” Scioscia said. “He got back into counts, got some outs when he had to, got some double play balls. He had good stuff, I just don’t know if his command was as crisp tonight.”
NOTES: Minor leaguer D.J. Peterson, Seattle’s first-round pick in the June draft, underwent surgery in Iowa to repair a broken jaw after he was hit in the face by a pitch on Thursday night. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said Peterson might need a second surgery to fully repair the injury. … The Angels recalled RHP Cory Rasmus from Triple-A Salt Lake and designated RHP Billy Buckner for assignment. Rasmus will be the 25th pitcher used by the Angels this season. … Seattle 2B Nick Franklin missed his second straight game with a laceration on his knee.