Angels 7, Mariners 4
Ervin Santana has five more wins than Felix Hernandez, who has Cy Young numbers in just about every other category - including the best ERA in the AL and the highest strikeout total in the majors. Its the abysmal run support that has prevented the Seattle Mariners' ace from being one of the front-runners for the award.
Santana tied a career high for victories with his 16th, allowing three runs and five hits over 7 1-3 innings and striking out five in a 7-4 victory over the Mariners on Saturday night. Had Hernandez received that kind of run support, he wouldn't be saddled with a .500 record at this stage of the season.
''That's the part of it that's not right. I mean, for him to put up as many zeros as he has, his (won-lost) record shouldn't reflect (badly on) what he's done,'' Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins said. ''The Cy Young is basically for the best pitcher. But if he doesn't get runs, that's not his fault. If his other numbers are up there than he deserves it and he should get it. But if I know him, he's going to continue to go out there and pitch to win.''
Torii Hunter had four RBIs and Hideki Matsui homered for the Angels, helping Santana (16-9) match the win totals he had in 2006 and 2008. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in his five starts against the Mariners.
''It was a credit to us to do that to go out and do that to one of the best pitchers in the game,'' Hunter said. ''Felix has been hot all of August and up until now. That guy is filthy, man. He's got some of the nastiest stuff, especially against righties. Right-handers are like sacrificial lambs. But tonight we came through.''
Hernandez (11-11) was charged with seven runs - four earned - and three walks in 6 1-3 innings and struck out five. This was the sixth time in the 24-year-old right-hander's last 11 starts that his teammates didn't score while he was in the game. Hernandez has allowed 17 unearned runs this season, the most on the Seattle staff, but has given up just five earned runs in 51 1-3 innings over his last seven starts.
Hernandez was 0-3 with a 4.13 ERA in his five starts against the Angels, three of which were against Angels ace Jered Weaver.
''We were just trying to stay up the middle and not try to pull the ball - because we've always been in trouble when we do,'' Hunter added. ''We've faced him so much, so tonight we tried to work him and get his pitch count up so that hopefully he'd get out of there. But he's such a bulldog, he doesn't care if he has 130 pitches. He wants to get a complete game.''
Despite his won-lost record, Hernandez was still in the running in some circles because of his 2.39 ERA and 214 strikeouts - three more than Weaver. But no starting pitcher has won the award in either league with fewer than 16 victories - a distinction shared by five pitchers. So even if Hernandez won his final four starts, he would be a longshot at best.
Hernandez won 19 games last season and still finished runnerup to Kansas City's Zack Greinke, who was 16-8. David Cone was 16-5 with the Royals in 1994, Greg Maddux 16-6 with the Braves in 1994 and Brandon Webb 16-8 with the Diamondbacks in 2006. Rick Sutcliffe 16-1 with the Cubs during the final 3 1-2 months of the 1984 season after the Indians traded him with a 4-5 record.
Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a three-run homer in the eighth that chased Santana. It was his 2,215th major league hit, breaking a tie with Joe DiMaggio for 167th place all-time. It also put the two-time AL batting champ within 15 hits of reaching the 200 mark for 10th consecutive season, which would tie Pete Rose for the longest such streak in history and snap a tie with Ty Cobb for the longest streak in the AL.
Kevin Jepsen gave up a two-out RBI single in the ninth to Josh Wilson before Fernando Rodney closed it out for his ninth save in 14 chances, retiring Suzuki on a line drive to third base with two men on.
After beating Cleveland in 16 innings on Wednesday night and edging the Mariners in 14 innings in Friday night's series opener, the Angels opened the scoring in the second with Howie Kendrick's two-out RBI single after Erick Aybar grounded into a force play and stole second. The rally began with a 10-pitch leadoff walk to Matsui, whose 62 walks are three shy of his total last season with the Yankees.
Matsui's next plate appearance lasted only two pitches and resulted in his 19th homer, an opposite-field drive to left-center after Hernandez fell behind in the count.
''I felt too strong. That's what happened,'' said Hernandez, who was pitching on six days' rest. ''I couldn't locate the corners. I just have to forget about this one and see what happens in the next one.''
The Angels increased the margin to 5-0 in the fifth with three unearned runs. The first two batters reached on errors by third baseman Jose Lopez and shortstop Wilson, who mishandled a throw after Hernandez fielded Jeff Mathis' bunt and tried for the force play on Kendrick. Bobby Abreu drove in a run with a groundout and Hunter added a two-run single, after driving in only one run in his 40 previous career at-bats against Hernandez.
Hunter greeted Jamey Wright with a two-run double after Hernandez departed. But the nine-time Gold Glove outfielder lost Wilson's line drive to right field in the lights, resulting in a double right before Suzuki's sixth homer of the season.
NOTES: Angels September callups Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo made their major league debut back-to-back in the seventh inning, striking out as pinch-hitters for Matsui and Mike Napoli. Trumbo stayed in the game at 1B, becoming the 11th player the Halos have used at that position this season. That tied a franchise record set in 1969. ... The only other matchup between Santana and Hernandez was on Aug. 13, 2008, when neither got a decision in Seattle's 12-inning 10-7 win.