SEATTLE (AP) -- Felix Hernandez rocketed through the Seattle
Mariners' organization, dominating batters at every stop during his
three seasons in the minors.
Turns out, major league hitters aren't much of a match, either.Seattle's prized 19-year-old prospect pitched eight shutout
innings in his second major league start and the Mariners beat the
Minnesota Twins 1-0 Tuesday night.Hernandez (1-1), who lost his first big league start 3-1
Thursday at Detroit, allowed five hits, all singles, and struck out
six in besting Kyle Lohse (7-11) in a pitching duel. The young
right-hander threw 94 pitches -- 69 strikes -- and did not walk a
batter."This was different," he said. "I felt much more
comfortable."The native of Valencia, Venezuela, signed with the Mariners when
he was 16 years old for a reported $710,000. He was called up from
Triple-A Tacoma last Thursday after posting a 9-4 record with a
2.24 ERA in 19 games and 14 starts."This has always been my dream," Hernandez said through a
translator.In his two starts this season, he has an 0.69 ERA -- one earned
run in 13 innings pitched."I was a little bit surprised, but things went really, really
well," Hernandez said.Wiki Gonzalez, Seattle's catcher who also is from Venezuela,
caught Hernandez in Tacoma this season."Everything went perfect for him today," Gonzalez said. "I
don't think you can ask for anything more from him. This kid's
good."Hernandez was limited to 81 pitches in his five-inning major
league debut in Detroit.Manager Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Bryan Price discussed
taking out Hernandez after seven innings."Not because of his pitch count, but because he had thrown a
really outstanding ballgame and we wanted him to walk away with a
positive feeling and not have something bad happen to him,"
Hargrove said. "But he was throwing the ball so well that I
couldn't see not sending him back out there."Hernandez's next start is expected to be next Monday in Seattle
against the Kansas City Royals. The Mariners are trying to limit
using Hernandez too much this season, but he has time in the final
two months to make nine or 10 more starts.Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for his 27th consecutive save --
his second in two nights -- and his 28th save in 29 opportunities.
He wanted to talk about the newest member of the Mariners'
rotation."He looked like he was about 28 or 29 out there," Guardado
said of Hernandez's composure on the mound. "It was awesome to
see."Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said it wasn't a matter of
Hernandez's poise, though."I think we are talking about a 97-mph fastball and a
curveball," he said. "I think you can overlook the poise point.
He just has great stuff."Gardenhire said Hernandez still has to prove himself."That was one outing and you're talking about a kid who is 19
years old," he said.The Mariners broke a scoreless tie with two outs in the seventh
when Jeremy Reed doubled to right and rookie Yuniesky Betancourt
tripled to center on consecutive pitches by Lohse. It was
Betancourt's second RBI in his 10th major league game.Betancourt, who fled Cuba on a boat and then signed with the
Mariners as a free agent in January, had two triples and two
doubles among his eight hits in the majors.He played with Hernandez in Tacoma this season and was happy to
provide him with the winning run."I was just trying to make contact," he said through a
translator. "I never thought I'd hit a triple."The last-place Mariners beat the Twins -- who are trying to hang
on in the AL wild-card race -- for the second straight night and
dealt them their sixth consecutive road loss. Minnesota is 9-18
since the All-Star break and now trail by 8½ games in the wild-card
race.Lohse lost his fifth decision in seven starts since posting his
last victory June 2. But he pitched a strong game, too, allowing
one run on four hits and two walks, with a season-high seven
strikeouts.The Twins loaded the bases in the fifth. Matthew LeCroy and
Jacque Jones opened with singles before Lew Ford hit into a
fielder's choice, with LeCroy being thrown out at third.Hernandez struck out Justin Morneau swinging with a 97-mph
fastball for the second out, but third baseman Adrian Beltre's
throwing error on a ground ball by Terry Tiffee loaded the bases.
Hernandez then got Jason Bartlett to ground out to end the inning.
Reed was caught stealing for the eighth time in 10
attempts. Reed had 59 stolen bases at Triple-A Charlotte and
Triple-A Tacoma in 2004. ... Beltre is tied for the Mariners' lead
with SS Mike Morse with 11 errors in 106 games. He had 10 errors in
157 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. ... The game
took 2:01, the shortest in Safeco Field history. The previous low
was 2:04 against Cleveland on April 23. ... The last time Minnesota
lost 1-0 was May 1, 2004, against the Angels. The last time the
Mariners won 1-0 was Sept. 15, 2004, against the Angels.