Felix Hernandez is already a record-holder. On Tuesday, though, he made things a bit harder for the next guy who tries to match his reign.
Hernandez extended an MLB record of going seven or more innings for the 15th-straight start. He lasted eight innings, earning the win in a 4-2 victory for his Seattle Mariners over the Atlanta Braves. Hernandez allowed four hits, one run, walked just one and struck out eight batters.
His record is now 12-3 on the year, but he is lacking one achievement through his historic streak. Hernandez has yet to pitch a complete game. On Tuesday, he threw 97 pitches before he was pulled for Seattle closer Fernando Rodney.
"It was my decision and I'll continue to do that, I'll continue to protect my pitchers," McClendon told MLB.com. "I'm trying to play meaningful games in September, not have a pitcher throw a complete game in the first of August. My objective is to try to get this team as far as I can
and hopefully that's the playoffs.
"We have our eyes set on it, I don't know if we can get there or not, but I want Felix healthy, strong and moving forward in September."
Despite a 58-54 record, the Mariners are 11 games out of first place in the American League West Division. It'll be tough to make up ground, too, because the Oakland A's continue to surge as the best team in baseball and the Los Angeles Angels are playing their best ball of the year.
In an effort to keep pace with their hot rivals, McClendon tweaked his pitching rotation. It goes back to the manager's philosophy of keeping his guys healthy.
"Every chance I get to give them an extra day of rest, I’m going to do it,” McClendon told the Seattle Times. “I think we’ve done OK with it. Last time I checked, we had the best pitching in the American League. Why break something that’s not breaking? Keep doing. Keep resting them. Keep protecting them.”
The Mariners are fighting for the second AL Wild Card spot with the Toronto Blue Jays, a team they will face later this week. The Mariners have not reached the postseason since 2001, when they had the best regular season record in the Major Leagues.
They lost in the AL Championship Series to the New York Yankees before the Yankees fell in seven games to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It's been a long drought, but pitching has been the catalyst to bring back the playoff hopes. Odd, considering in the offseason Seattle made a huge splash to bring in offensive threats in Robinson Cano and Logan Morrison, while recently adding Austin Jackson.
With a 3.04 team earned run average, the Mariners do own the best staff in baseball. It also has the lowest WHIP with a 1.14, while striking out 902 batters as a unit, this season.
Hernandez is the staff ace and may just be the star pitcher in the entire game.
His 2.01 ERA is best in the American League and he's second in individual strikeouts and third in innings pitched. Overall, he is likely the top professional hurler. Opposing managers sure seem to think so.
The former Cy Young winner has been racking up awards and accolades throughout his career. As he continues to stretch his record-setting streak, it's not a stretch to say the flamethrower could be adding another Cy Young award to his closet by the end of the season.
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