King Felix's "Two-fer Tuesday"Hernandez battles his idol and a former teammate for the first time tonight
On the day he signed with the Mariners, Hernandez was brought to Safeco Field by the team’s brass – and the first man he met was one of the team’s top pitchers, a fellow Venezuelan named Freddy Garcia.
"I was always looking up to Freddy. He was my idol back in the day. He still is," Felix told the team’s website on Tuesday.
They never got to play together, however, as Garcia was with the White Sox by the time Hernandez made his MLB debut in 2005, and in fact Tuesday marks the first time they will ever have faced each other.
But since the day that the 19-year-old phenom announced his arrival in Seattle, that team’s most recognizable stars have always been Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki – and as the team has finished under .500 for five of the last seven seasons, it’s been King Felix who was always linked to the trade market (especially in talks with the Yankees) and Ichiro who was seen as the Seattle lifer.
Until Monday, when the Yankees completed their second big trade with the Mariners this calendar year, seemingly swooping in out of nowhere to acquire Suzuki – meaning that as Hernandez gets set to battle his idol, he will also have to contend with a man who certainly helped him notch a 6-5 record and 3.45 ERA in a dozen previous starts against the Bombers.
As of late, the Yankees have done fine against The King without Ichiro; in his past two starts against the Bombers, Hernandez is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA, gave up a season-high 11 hits and four runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 6-2 loss in New York on May 11.
Garcia, meanwhile, has been aces against Seattle in the recent past, as he is 4-0 with a 4.05 ERA in his last five starts against the Mariners, the last of which came with the Yankees almost exactly one year ago to the day (July 25, 2011).
And as for Ichiro, well, one night after making his Yankees debut against Kevin Millwood – who has allowed more of his 2,534 MLB hits (33, to be exact) than anyone else – his second task is to help continue his new team’s recent domination of the man who is now alone as face of the old one.
It’s funny how sometimes life can come full circle with opportune timing. Tonight will be a memorable one for all three men – but which of them will come away as winners?