ICYMI: The Mariners King Baffles US In WBC Round 2 Opener
Mariners ace, Felix Hernandez arguably had one of the worst seasons of his career last season. His ERA was the highest it had ever been since 2007. His walks per nine innings were the highest of his career, and his strikeout per nine were the lowest of his career. It wasn’t a year to remember.
His 2016 season led to speculation that he was starting to hit the typical decline players face once they reach their age-30 season.
2016 was a year of injuries, inconsistency, and doubt for the Mariners and Hernandez. Felix was one of the M’s players tio go down with an injury and he didn’t like it, which led to a new workout regime that helped him gain almost 20 pounds.
Felix Hernandez comes into 2017 with a chip on his shoulder. Wednesday night in round two of the WBC vs. the United States, he sent a message to everyone around the league. King Felix is back.
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Felix faced the minimum through the first 2 1/3 innings, striking out Ian Kinsler and Nolan Arenado. After getting the first out in the 3rd, he faced his first, and only, jam of the night.
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Jonathan Lucroy, Alex Bregman, and Kinsler all hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases for Adam Jones. After bringing the count to 2-2, Felix threw a slider on the outside corner and let his infielders do the rest. Jones hit into a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side and keep the lead in Venezuela’s hands.
With a fist pump and some yelling, shades of vintage Felix Hernandez were shown that night, and it should be something that every Mariner fan should be excited about.
He ended his night retiring the next 6 batters in a row. His final line of the night: 5 IP, 3 Ks, 3 H, 0 BB.
All of his pitches had movement. He threw them all for strikes. The strikezone was his. Felix absolutely stifled the potent lineup of the United States, which scored a total of 16 runs in round one of the tournament. Their hitters were his puppets, and he was the master Wednesday night.
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Return of the King in ’17?
The Felix the world saw Wednesday night was the Felix Mariner fans know and love. It was the Felix that opposing teams never want to face. If he continues to throw the ball like that in the 2017 season, he can bet that those speculations will be put to rest.