DETROIT — Any game involving Mariners ace Felix Hernandez against Detroit figures to be a marquee matchup inasmuch as the Tigers possess the past three pitchers to win the American League’s Cy Young Award.
That last guy to win it who doesn’t currently pitch for Detroit was Hernandez in 2010 — and he’s building a strong resume this year that could result in reclaiming the honor.
Hernandez didn’t face the Tigers earlier this season when they came to Safeco Field but will pitch Saturday when the Mariners continue their weekend series at Comerica Park.
He will oppose lefty David Price, the 2012 recipient whom the Tigers acquired July 31 from Tampa Bay as part of the three-team trade that brought center fielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners.
“It’s going to be a good one,” Hernandez said. “But I’m not facing Price. I’m facing Miguel (Cabrera) and Victor (Martinez).”
Even so, Saturday’s game marks a first:
Hernandez and Price, two of the game’s top pitchers, have never squared off against one another. That’s largely because Price has faced the Mariners on just three occasions in his seven-year career.
Another oddity: Hernandez has faced Detroit’s Max Scherzer, the 2013 Cy Young winner, only once: April 17, 2013 when both got no-decisions at Safeco.
Hernandez is 2-1 in three matchups against Justin Verlander, the 2011 winner — but all three games were over five years ago, before either of them won the Cy Young Award — and all three were at Safeco.
Of Price’s three starts against the Mariners, two came earlier this season; He beat the Mariners 2-1 with a complete game on May 13 at Safeco after Fernando Rodney surrendered two runs in the ninth inning.
The Mariners got even in a 3-0 victory over June 9 at Tampa Bay behind Erasmo Ramirez and four relievers. Rodney closed that game for a save.
Price failed to get a decision in his two previous starts for the Tigers. He is 11-8 overall with a 3.21 ERA in 25 starts.
Hernandez is looking to extend his major-league-record streak of 16 consecutive starts of pitching at least seven innings and allowing two or fewer runs. He is 13-3 with a league-leading 1.95 ERA.
He is also 9-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 previous career starts against the Tigers, including 5-1 and 3.00 in seven starts at Comerica Park.