It’s good to be the king. Felix Hernandez struck out nine Angels and scattered four hits through 8 2/3 innings in a 3-1 Seattle win Wednesday night.
Hernandez (7-1) retired the first nine batters and didn’t allow a runner into scoring position until the fourth. Howie Kendrick led off with a sharp single up the middle and Mike Trout followed with a walk. With David Freese batting, Kendrick was picked off stealing for the third time this season.
Kendrick sought to redeem himself in the sixth, batting with Collin Cowgill on first. He took Hernandez’s 3-1 fastball to shortstop for a rally-ending twin killing. Kendrick still leads the team in average (.294) but is second to Albert Pujols in double plays grounded into (7).
C.J. Wilson nearly matched Hernandez pitch-for-pitch in his 56th career appearance against the Mariners. He tossed 7 2/3 innings, limiting an opponent to fewer than four runs for the eighth time in 10 outings. Unfortunately for Wilson, a turbulent second innings was all Seattle needed to guarantee a series win.
Justin Smoak led off the second with a single and advanced to second base on Kyle Seager’s walk. Wilson got the next two batters out before leaving a fastball over the plate to Mike Zunino. The Mariners’ catcher took it up the middle, scoring both runners and giving Seattle a 2-0 lead. Zunino struck again in the eight, taking Wilson’s first pitch over the left-center field fence to extended the Mariners’ lead.
Wilson, who was 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA over his six previous starts at Safeco Field, drops to 6-4.
The Angels’ sole run came after Hernandez already crossed the 100-pitch mark. Trout singled with two outs in the ninth and scored on Pujols’ first double of the series. It was the first Halo run scored off of “King Felix” since the third inning on Opening Day.
The Angels narrowly avert being shut out for the second time this year. With Oakland’s victory over Detroit, the Angels fall 2 ½ games back in the AL West. They also lose their sixth of eight meetings with Seattle after only losing eight all of last season.