High Heat

Revisiting Felix Hernandez’s 15 best starts

Where does Felix Hernandez’s 15-strikeout performance last weekend rank among his best career starts? (AP)

The last time Felix Hernandez took the mound, he baffled the Rays on his way to a career-high 15 strikeouts. He’ll take the hill again tonight against Texas, and to celebrate his 15-strikeout performance, here is a look at the 15 best starts in the sensational career of King Felix.

15. Aug. 28, 2006 vs. Angels
Mariners 2, Angels 0
9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

A very young Hernandez silenced an Angels lineup featuring Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson. The M’s scored twice in the fourth inning and that would be plenty. This marked the first complete-game shutout of his career.

14. Aug. 27, 2012 at Minnesota
Mariners 1, Twins 0
9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

There was no margin for error as Felix dominated a Twins lineup that managed just one extra-base hit. The M’s pushed one run across in the eighth inning on an Eric Thames solo homer. Felix made it stand. He retired the first 11 he saw.

13. Aug. 10, 2010 vs. Oakland
Mariners 2, Athletics 0
8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K

The final four hitters in Oakland’s lineup went 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts in this game. The A’s loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning, but Felix slammed the door and only allowed three base-runners the rest of the way, and one of them reached on a dropped third strike after a strikeout.

12. July 26, 2013 vs. Minnesota
Twins 3, Mariners 2
9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K

Felix lost the shutout in the ninth inning and the M’s went on to lose the game in the 13th. He did not allow an extra-base hit and retired 21 of 22 at one point.

11. June 8, 2014 at Tampa Bay
Mariners 5, Rays 0
7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 K

Felix baffled the Rays for seven innings. The middle of Tampa Bay’s order – Evan Longoria, James Loney and Ben Zobrist – went 1 for 9 with five strikeouts. This game marked just the 11th time since 1914 that a pitcher threw seven or fewer innings while fanning 15 or more.

• Felix Hernandez, 6/8/2014: 7 IP, 15 K
• Max Scherzer, 5/20/2012: 7 IP, 15 K
• Cliff Lee, 5/6/2011: 7 IP, 16 K
• Jake Peavy, 4/25/2007: 7 IP, 16 K
• Jake Peavy, 5/22/2006: 7 IP, 16 K
• Randy Johnson, 9/27/2001: 6 2/3 IP, 16 K
• Randy Johnson, 8/23/2001: 7 IP, 16 K
• Mike Mussina, 9/24/2000: 7 IP, 15 K
• Al Leiter, 8/1/1999: 7 IP, 15 K
• Dwight Gooden, 5/11/1990: 7 IP, 15 K

10. April 2, 2007 vs. Oakland
Mariners 4, Athletics 0
8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K

Felix dominated the A’s on Opening Day. Jason Kendall played 14 years in the big leagues and this game marked only the second time in his career that a single pitcher fanned him three times in a game.

9. May 5, 2012 vs. Minnesota
Mariners 7, Twins 0
8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K

A Denard Span leadoff single in the fourth inning was the only hit the Twins could muster. All three base-runners reached in the fourth as Felix retired in order the last 13 hitters he saw.

8. June 16, 2009 at San Diego
Mariners 5, Padres 0
9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K

The Padres managed just two singles all day against Felix. Three Padres reached base in the first two innings before Felix zipped 1-2-3 through the next six innings until the ninth, when he allowed a single and a walk.

7. July 21, 2010 vs. White Sox
Mariners 2, White Sox 1
8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

Felix yielded just two singles and put down the last 17 hitters that came to the plate. He did not get the win because the game remained scoreless into extra innings. The White Sox scored once in the top of the 11th, but Franklin Gutierrez drove home two runs in the bottom of the inning to hand the M’s the win. Alex Rios went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts.

6. June 28, 2012 vs. Boston
Mariners 1, Red Sox 0
9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K

The Red Sox whiffed 13 times against Felix and only walked once. He gave up five hits – all singles – and made one run stand.

5. June 30, 2010 at Yankees
Mariners 7, Yankees 0
9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K

Felix fanned 11 Yankees in this two-hitter. He completely silenced a lineup that featured Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson in a hitter’s paradise. The Yankees scored 859 runs that season, which was the most in MLB.

4. Aug. 4, 2012 at Yankees
Mariners 1, Yankees 0
9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Facing a high-octane offense, Felix allowed just two hits and walked just two in this game. A Robinson Cano double and an Ichiro single were the only hits that 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 in 21 straight games at home.

3. July 14, 2012 vs. Texas
Mariners 7, Rangers 0
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 ratio is great enough to frame: 12/0. The heart of the Rangers’ order – Hamilton, Beltre and Cruz – combined to go 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts.

2. April 11, 2007 at Boston
Mariners 3, Red Sox 0
9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Boston’s powerful offense that would lead the Red Sox to their second World Series title in four years was completely flummoxed by Felix. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell formed a fierce nucleus, but on this day Felix would only give up an eighth-inning leadoff single to J.D. Drew. He dominated a team that hit .297 at their hitter’s haven that season.

1. Aug. 15, 2012 vs. Tampa Bay
Mariners 1, Rays 0
9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K


About the Author

Gary Hill

Gary Hill writes about the Mariners in his "High Heat" blog and is a host of the team's pregame and postgame shows. In addition to his work on 710 ESPN Seattle and, Gary is also a color commentator for Seattle University basketball games. Follow Gary: @GaryHillJr


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