By Gary Hill
Felix Hernandez will take to the mound tonight for the first time since brilliantly blanking the New York Yankees on just two hits in his last start. In the postgame show last Saturday we spoke about where his dominant start ranks on his all-time list. I thought I would revisit the conversation in print to celebrate The King toeing the rubber tonight.
The first lesson learned when researching great Felix starts is that there are an overwhelming number of them. Since 2006 (Felix’s first full year as a starter) he has gone at least 8 innings while yielding 2 runs or less 55 times which leads all of MLB.
1- Felix Hernandez- 55
2- CC Sabathia- 54
2- Roy Halladay- 54
4- Cliff Lee- 53
5- Cole Hamels- 46
6- Justin Verlander- 43
7- James Shields- 34
7- Dan Haren- 34
9- Matt Cain- 33
10- Tim Lincecum- 32
10- Chris Carpenter- 32
Felix stays in select company even if the parameters are narrowed even further to at least 8 innings pitched, but 0 runs allowed.
1- Felix Hernandez- 19
1- CC Sabathia- 19
1- Cliff Lee- 19
4- Roy Halladay- 16
5- Justin Verlander- 14
5- Chris Carpenter- 14
Trying to choose his greatest start is an extremely difficult task given the volume to choose from. The other issue is since he has not thrown a no-hitter there is no obvious choice at the top. Here is the Felix Hernandez Top -10 as I see it.
10. August 28, 2006 vs Anaheim
Mariners 2 Angels 0
Felix: 9 IP 5 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 4 K
The Angels could not force a free pass and they only managed five singles. The middle of the order was fierce with Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson, but they did no damage.
9. May 5, 2012 vs Minnesota
Mariners 7 Twins 0
Felix: 8 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 9 K
The Twins offense was completely helpless against Felix. Felix did not come out for the 9th given the M’s 7 run cushion. A Denard Span single was the only offense Minnesota could muster.
8. April 2, 2007 vs Oakland
Mariners 4 A’s 0
Felix: 8 IP 3 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 12 K
Felix probably would have finished the deal had it not been Opening Day 2007. He gave up one extra base hit in the game and fanned 12.
7. July 21, 2010 vs Chicago (AL)
Mariners 2 White Sox 1
Felix: 8 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 8 K
Felix would not get the win in this one as the M’s took the Sox in 11 innings. Felix kept the M’s in the game by keeping Chicago off the board completely. He walked none and sat eight down on strikes.
6. June 16, 2009 @ San Diego
Mariners 5 Padres 0
Felix: 9 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 4 BB 6 K
The Padres managed just two singles against Felix. He did walk four batters in the game, but only allowed two singles.
5. June 28, 2012 vs Boston
Mariners 1 Red Sox 0
Felix: 9 IP 5 H 0 R 0 ER 1 B 13 K
The Red Sox whiffed 13 times against King Felix and only walked once. He gave up five hits, but they were all singles. The M’s only gave him one run to work with and he made it stand.
4. June 30, 2010 @ New York
Mariners 7 Yankees 0
9 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 3 BB 11 K
Felix fanned 11 Yankees in the 2 hitter. He limited the Yankees to two doubles in the game. He kept a lineup with Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson off the board.
3. August 4, 2012 @ New York
Mariners 1 Yankees 0
Felix: 9 IP 2 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 6 K
Facing a high octane offense in a hitter’s park, Felix allowed just two hits and walked just two in the game. A Robinson Cano double and Ichiro single were the only hits the best team in baseball could muster. The one run the M’s scored gave Felix no margin for error against a team that had homered 21 straight times at home.
2. July 14 2012 vs Texas
Mariners 7 Rangers 0
Felix: 9 IP 3 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 12 K
Felix only gave up three singles to a powerful lineup featuring Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. The strikeout to walk is beautiful which bumps this game up the list- 12 to 0.
1. April 11, 2007 @ Boston
Mariners 3 Red Sox 0
Felix: 9 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB 6 K
The powerful offense would lead the Red Sox to their second World Series title in four years. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell formed a fierce nucleus that struck fear into the hearts of AL pitchers. On this day, however, Felix would only give up an 8th inning leadoff single to J.D. Drew. He dominated a team that hit .297 at their hitter’s haven on the season.