By Shannon Drayer
OAKLAND, Calif. – In Game 1 of the Mariners’ doubleheader against the Athletics Wednesday, Felix Hernandez put up a zero in the most unlikely of categories: strikeouts.
For just the third time in his big-league career and only the second time in a game in which he pitched more than one inning, Felix failed to strike anyone out. While there was a good amount of panic on Twitter about Felix perhaps not being okay, he assured us after the game that he was.
“No strikeouts,” he said, shaking his head. “Not a good breaking ball, not a good changeup. That’s what happens when you don’t have good stuff. I feel fine. No excuse. It was my fault but we win the game, that’s the thing.”
Felix wasn’t concerned in the least and if you need to have your fears calmed a little, listen to the audio. He was all smiles after the game. The Mariners won 6-4 and he survived an outing without his best stuff, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up four runs – three of them earned – two walks and no strikeouts on 97 pitches, 67 of them thrown for strikes.
While he wouldn’t admit it, I would suspect that he was not quite 100 percent after losing nine pounds in his last start five days ago when he had the flu. His fastball velocity was down and he might not have been as strong as he normally is.
While he hasn’t been as good as he was at the start of the year in his last few outings, there are a number of things that come into play here, including some bad plays on defense and the fact that Felix was most likely at an advantage coming out of spring training as strong as he did with the hitters still settling in. When all is said and done, he has not surrendered more than three earned runs in a start this season.
We tend to hold him to a higher standard, a standard that he has set, but let’s remember he is a human pitcher and he has had much worse stretches throughout his career than what we are seeing now.