video thumbnail

SEA@DET: Ackley drives in a pair in the second

DETROIT -- A lot of pitchers fear Detroit's lineup. Apparently not Felix Hernandez, who behind a season-high nine runs from his offense pushed his unbeaten streak against the Tigers to nine games.

The Mariners' ace and former Cy Young Award winner went seven innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out two on Wednesday as the M's beat up on Detroit, 9-1, for the second straight night.

The Mariners are 8-2 in in their past 10 games against the Tigers dating back to last season. And the 26-year-old right-hander hasn't lost to Detroit since April 23, 2006.

As good as his stat line reads, Hernandez admitted to not having his best stuff in the game. In the first inning he threw 28 pitches and only 10 for strikes. He walked three batters in the inning for the first time in his career, but he escaped unscathed.

"I don't remember ever [having command issues like that]," Hernandez said. "Everything was going down. I was forcing everything. After that, I was fine. I made a mechanical adjustment and I was good."

Hernandez threw three balls in the dirt to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera before Cabrera nearly took him deep on a 3-2 curveball that he left hanging. Casper Wells caught the ball on the warning track, about a foot in front of the left-field wall.

Hernandez issued walks to Prince Fielder and Delmon Young, before getting Alex Avila to ground out to second and end the threat. He said he realized after that inning it wouldn't be another 12-strikeout night like he had against the Indians.

"I didn't have the changeup that I had the last game, or the slider or the curveball," said Hernandez, who stopped trying to fan hitters and began pitching to contact. "I just tried to make good pitches and get ground balls. Get some double plays. It's been a while since I got some double plays."

Hernandez had only forced two double-play balls entering Wednesday night's game. He left with double that amount, as he forced one in the fourth inning and one in the fifth. The strikeout magic was missing, but he made up for it by inducing quick, easy outs.

"He's incredible with how he is able to work through things," manager Eric Wedge said. "When you got your best stuff, regardless of who you are, you're probably going to have a pretty good day. But it's those days like today when ... he had to fight through it, and he just never gave into it."

A homer by Brennan Boesch in the bottom of the third inning was the only run Hernandez surrendered. While he was silencing Detroit's bats, the Mariners' bats were exploding.

Five players had multi-hit nights as the Mariners matched their season high with 15 hits -- which they set Tuesday night -- and scored nine runs.

Dustin Ackley, who served as leadoff man with Chone Figgins given a day off, went 3-for-6 with a double and three RBIs. He scored the first run in the first inning, and drove in two in the second. The Mariners' leadoff guy reached safely in the first four innings, and six of nine overall.

"That's huge," Ackley said. "Anytime you get a runner on and get a pitcher out of the stretch and get him to worry about the runner a little bit. Guys make more mistakes in that situation."

A mistake came to Alex Liddi, who homered for the second time in as many days in the third. The blast was the knockout punch for Tigers starter Adam Wilk. Wilk was pulled before he could record his seventh out, as the Mariners took a 6-0 lead.

"Right now, people are kind of beating up on us, and enjoying it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

After the game, Wedge spoke about just how much his team was enjoying it. Thirty hits and 16 runs in the past two games. Since having a perfect game thrown against them, the Mariners are hitting .325 (38-for-117) over the last three.

"It's been a lot of fun to watch these guys the last couple of days," Wedge said. "These guys come out here with a lot of energy every day, and it's good to see. It's what we're looking for."

MLB.com Comments