EVERETT — Fans packed Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium on Friday evening to catch a glimpse of the longtime face of the Seattle Mariners franchise, Felix Hernandez, as he made his first in-game appearance since June.
King Felix treated the AquaSox fans to a royal — albeit short — performance on the mound, and Everett snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Spokane Indians.
Hernandez’s first pitch went for a strike on a fastball that was chased off the plate away, and he needed just 20 pitches, 13 of them strikes, to get through two perfect innings.
“It feels pretty good,” Hernandez said of making his first in-game appearance since June. “It feels good to be back on the mound. Physically, I feel fine. I just gotta keep working and build it up.”
Hernandez struck out two and induced four groundouts, consistently hitting 88 mph on the radar gun with his fastball. Both strikeouts came on the changeup.
“I felt pretty good. I had a lot of movement on the fastball, good command of the curveball, good changeup,” Hernandez said. “(I’m) really happy about it.”
Hernandez was placed on the injury list on May 12 with a latissimus dorsi strain and made one rehab appearance with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers on June 14. He left that game in the third inning with shoulder fatigue.
This was Hernandez’s second appearance with the AquaSox since pitching 11 games with the team as a 19-year-old in 2003. The other came in a rehab appearance in 2016.
Hernandez is in the final year of a five-year, $135.5 million contract extension he signed with the Mariners in 2013.
Mariners first-round pick George Kirby relieved Hernandez in the third inning. Kirby struck out three in one scoreless inning and allowed one hit.
A two-run triple by Billy Cooke capped a four-run seventh inning as Everett broke open a one-run game to take a 5-0 lead.
Spokane added a single run both in the eighth and ninth inning, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Deivy Florido pitched five innings in relief and allowed only one earned run to get the win for Everett (22-27, 4-7 second half).