Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez has the American League Cy Young Award in his possession. His last start was reminiscent to some of those during his trophy-winning campaign.
After suffering his first loss of 2011, Hernandez will try to bounce back Monday night against the Toronto Blue Jays and help his team end a seven-game skid.
Hernandez (1-1, 2.25 ERA) was presented with his first Cy Young Award before the Mariners' home opener Friday against Cleveland. Two days earlier, he didn't get much help from one of his teammates in a 7-3 defeat in Texas.
The Mariners' Jack Wilson committed consecutive errors in the second inning of that game — both on potential double plays — and that led to a pair of unearned runs. Hernandez gave up one more run over his final five innings, but that was on a tiebreaking double in the seventh.
"I thought [Hernandez] was good," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We made it difficult for him that one inning.
"He did everything to give us a chance to win the ball game. But ultimately, we didn't play very well."
Last season, Hernandez had a major league-best 2.27 earned-run average but finished 13-12 as he received an average of 3.1 runs per outing — the lowest support in the AL. In his only start against Toronto in 2010, he gave up one run and two hits over eight innings, but was on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays' lone run came on Jose Bautista's 50th of 54 home runs last season.
Hernandez is 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA in seven career starts against Toronto but his only matchup at Safeco Field was far from memorable. He was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits over 5 2-3 innings in an 11-4 loss July 27, 2009.
Having batted .189 in their last four games, the Blue Jays (5-4) don't appear poised for a repeat. They had 13 hits in a 6-5 loss in 14 innings to the host Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, but managed only four in a 3-1 defeat Sunday.
Toronto also lost centre-fielder Rajai Davis in the fifth inning after he irritated a previously injured right ankle.
"He's dealing with some lingering effects of the ankle and he's probably going to need a couple or three days," Blue Jays rookie manager John Farrell said.
The Mariners, meanwhile, got four runs on five hits against Cleveland but fell 6-4. Seattle's longest skid during last season's 61-101 campaign was eight April 30-May 8.
"Every team goes through stretches," Wedge said. "Obviously, it's magnified early.
"We're going through a tough stretch now. Hopefully, you find out a lot about yourself when you do go through these stretches."
While Hernandez didn't get enough support in his previous start, the scheduled starter for the Blue Jays, Jesse Litsch (1-0, 4.26), did in his season debut. The right-hander gave up three runs over 6 1/3 innings Wednesday against Oakland but Travis Snider's three-run homer gave him enough for a 5-3 win — Litsch's second since the end of 2008.
Litsch is 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three career starts against Seattle but hasn't faced the Mariners since a 7-6 loss at Safeco on July 1, 2008. That's mainly because elbow and hip injuries have limited him to 11 games over the previous two seasons.
The Blue Jays are seeking their seventh win in nine games against the Mariners, but are 3-8 in their last 11 at Safeco.