With six All-Star selections, two ERA titles and a Cy Young Award under his belt, Félix Hernández rightfully deserves his nickname, “King.”
On Wednesday though, the San Francisco Giants turned the King into a court jester, shredding the Seattle star on their way to a 10-1 victory at AT&T Park for their first home win of 2018.
Entering the game with a total of zero runs scored in the first inning, the Giants (3-3) looked to jump on Hernández early. But rather than attack with sheer power, San Francisco took a more patient route that would wind up paying dividends.
Said Giants skipper Bruce Bochy regarding his team’s patience:
“We really worked the pitcher. We want to be aggressive but at the same time just get a good quality at bat. I think throughout the lineup we saw that.”
Drawing a leadoff walk, Joe Panik was the first domino to fall in an eventful first. A broken-bat single by Brandon Belt and an infield single by Buster Posey placed the Giants in scoring position with the bases loaded.
With Hernández reeling early, Pablo Sandoval followed his teammate’s lead, drawing a walk of his own to push Panik home.
The Giants had broken the seal.
After a wild pitch brought home Belt, Brandon Crawford hit a sac fly to left field to bring in Posey. For the first time in 2018, the Giants took not only a lead, but a 3-0 lead, into the second inning.
The Giants weren’t done making a mockery of the one they call King. Coming back in the second inning, Gorkys Hernández unleashed his power on Felix Hernandez, taking him yard on a shot to left-center.
Coming off of a 2017 season hindered by a nagging hamstring injury, Gorkys sounded pleased to have that kind of impact:
“Last year I had the injury but today, I had a great game and that’s why I keep working.”
While Félix Hernández struggled to find any rhythm or composure, Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (W, 1-0, 0.69 ERA) was off to a dominant performance against Seattle. Cueto would complete six innings, giving up only a single run to the Mariners (3-2).
While he did give up eight hits, Cueto pitched to contact allowing his outfielders to make the plays necessary in order to keep Seattle off the scoreboard.
Cueto praised his team’s defense after the game with the help of translator Erwin Higueros:
“Thank God we have great defense. Everyone is playing very well and I just hope we continue to play that way.”
Still up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning the Giants decided to end Hernández’s night once and for all. An onslaught of four runs would do so as the Giants abandoned the patient approach to put the game away early.
A Belt homer to left and a three-run shot to McCovey Cove by Pablo Sandoval three at-bats later would send Hernández packing as the Giants took an 8-0 over Seattle’s ace.
For Sandoval, it’s his eighth splash in McCovey Cove giving him the second most home runs sent to the water only behind Barry Bonds (35).
Another homer by Crawford after the pitching change would put the cherry on top of the gem of a game.