Felix Hernandez attempts to become the American League’s first 11-game winner when the Seattle Mariners open a three-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Monday. Hernandez has won at least 15 games only twice in his stellar career but has a solid chance to surpass that mark and perhaps match – or eclipse – his career-high 19 victories from 2009.
Hernandez outdueled San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner in his last start, when he allowed just four hits over eight scoreless innings. Seattle won two of three over first-place Houston over the weekend but recorded just four hits in Sunday’s 6-2 loss – its second game since Edgar Martinez replaced Howard Johnson as hitting coach. Kansas City leads the American League Central by 3 1/2 games but dropped two of three to lowly Boston, including a 13-2 drubbing on Sunday. This is the first time the teams have met this season after Seattle won five of seven against the Royals last year.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, ROOT (Seattle)
LINE HISTORY: The Mariners opened as -160 favorites and have been bet down to -162. The total has held steady at 6.5 runs.
Kansas City – SP D. Duffy (probable Wednesday, bicep), SP Y. Ventura (15-day DL, hand), SP J. Vargas (15-day DL, hip).
Seattle – RP – D. Rollins (July 4, suspension), SP H. Iwakuma (Late June, back), SP J. Paxton (15-day DL, finger).
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “The M’s are certainly winning more games of late, but they are still struggling to find offensive chemistry. It’s a good thing they have Hernandez on the hill here as he seems to have regained good form. Under the radar yet again, the Royals are quietly getting the job done on a consistent basis. I think they have some dog value here in what should be a low-scoring matchup.” John Lester of bookmaker.eu.
HOT FAN WAR:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Joe Blanton (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Mariners RH Felix Hernandez (10-3, 3.08)
Blanton emerged victorious in his first start since 2013 as he allowed one run and five hits in five innings against Milwaukee on Wednesday. He pitched well in relief for Kansas City before landing the start and has recorded 17 strikeouts against three walks in 20 frames this season. Blanton is 8-7 with a 3.69 ERA in 18 career starts against the Mariners.
Hernandez was just 3-3 over a six-start span prior to the superb outing against the Giants, including the worst start of his career in which he was battered for eight runs while registering just one out against Houston on June 12. He has struggled this month, allowing 16 runs and 17 hits over 20 innings for an unsightly 7.20 ERA. Hernandez is 4-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 career outings against Kansas City.
* Over is 4-0 in Hernandez’s last four starts against the Royals.
* Under is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings in Seattle.
* Royals are 1-4 in the last five meetings.
* Mariners are 7-1 in Hernandez’s last eight starts as a favorite between -152 and -200.
COVERS CONSENSUS: So far 57.42 percent of wagers are being paced on the Mariners.