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If there was any doubt at all that Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will make a strong push for his second career Cy Young award in 2012, the pitcher certainly made a statement on Thursday night against the Red Sox. The Boston batters found themselves helpless as King Felix pitched nine innings, threw 128 pitches and tied a career high with 13 strikeouts, and the Red Sox fell 1-0 as Seattle walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning to break the scoreless tie.
In the ninth inning the Sox had their best chance to break through against Hernandez. David Ortiz lined a one-out single, bringing up Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The catcher quickly fell behind in the count 0-2, but Hernandez became wild as his pitch count rose, throwing seven consecutive balls, walking the Sox catcher and giving Adrian Gonzalez a 3-0 count and two runners on base. A-Gone had the green light but swung and missed on 3-0, and eventually flied out deep to center field on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Will Middlebrooks then popped out on the first pitch he saw.
In the bottom half of the inning, Scott Atchison surrendered the game-winning base hit by John Jaso, scoring Casper Wells, who doubled with one out in the inning. The loss was a tough one for the Sox, as their pitching was flawless right up until the ninth inning, nearly matching the tremendous performance by Hernandez.
Franklin Morales started his third game of the year and delivered his best game, pitching 7.0 innings, allowing only three hits and no runs. He walked two Mariners hitters and struck out seven. He continues is proving to be a reliable power lefty in the rotation and certainly pitched well enough on Thursday to get the win.
Unfortunately, Hernandez was simply too much for anyone to handle as he picked up his sixth win of the season. Over nine innings of work he allowed five singles, walked just one man and struck out 13. He fanned every Sox batter at least once, with the exception of Brent Lillibridge, who pinch-ran for Ortiz in the ninth and did not have an at bat.
On Friday night the Sox and Mariners go at it again in a game which should feature more offense on both sides. Aaron Cook will be making his third start of the year for Boston, looking for his second victory and attempting to lower his 9.39 ERA. On the other side, ex-Yankees pitcher Hector Noesi pitches for Seattle. Noesi has been on the losing end of many starts this season, holding a 2-9 record and 5.50 ERA.
Tags: Aaron Cook, Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Brent Lillibridge, Casper Wells, David Ortiz, Felix Hernandez, Franklin Morales, Hector Noesi, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, John Jaso, Scott Atchison, Seattle Mariners, Will Middlebrooks