This week belonged to Felix Hernandez. His 15-strikeout shutout in Tampa on Sunday was the highest strikeout total by a Seattle pitcher since Randy Johnson took down the Angels in 1998. In fact, Felix became just the fourth Mariner to join the 15+ strikeout club behind Mike Moore, Mark Langston, and Johnson.
Felix earned the unique distinction of reaching 15 strikeouts in just seven innings, besting Johnson's 15-strikeout performance in 7 1/3 innings against the Royals in '93. As might be expected, he also holds the lowest pitch count in this group, with just 100 pitches to Johnson's 110.
Of course, this is to say nothing of Felix's second four-hitter last night. His combined starts yielded eight hits, three walks, a run, and 21 whiffs -- the most strikeouts in back-to-back starts since Randy struck out 25 in consecutive starts back in 1994. (You can be fairly certain that if any fortune fell to Mariners pitchers, Randy Johnson was the first to benefit from it.)
Here are a few more highlights from weeks past, beginning with former first baseman Dan Meyer.
June 9, 1987: Dan Meyer sets the record for longest hitting streak with the fewest strikeouts.
Officially, the longest hitting streak in franchise history belongs to Ichiro Suzuki. On the leaderboard, Dan Meyer doesn't come close to touching Ichiro's 27-game streak. However, in 1987 he strung 21 consecutive games with at least one hit, totaling 41 bases, 15 extra-base hits, and three strikeouts. He would finish the season with some of his best numbers, including 20 home runs and a career-high .459 slugging percentage. In 144 games, he managed just 35 strikeouts on the year for the lowest single-season strikeout total (in at least 140 games) in M's history. Within the next two decades, he would be surpassed by only Joey Cora and Harold Reynolds.
June 11, 1996: Mariners combine for 24 hits in a single game.
Over the past 35 years, the Mariners put together 27 games with at least 20 hits, most recently a 20-hit effort against the Texas Rangers in 2012. Their all-time best record is 24 hits, achieved early in franchise history when they bested the Minnesota Twins 18-8 in early June 1996. Opposing starter Rick Aguilera was forced out after three innings when he gave up 10 hits, 10 runs, a walk, and a home run to outfielder Darren Bragg. The M's were no kinder to the Twins' bullpen, shelling them in a six-run fourth inning and five-run ninth inning. Catcher Dan Wilson was the star of the show, going 5 for 6 with a double and four base hits. Although the Mariners have matched their all-time best hit record twice since that day, they haven't done so in the last 10 years.
June 8, 2012: Led by Kevin Millwood, the M's pitched their first combined no-no in franchise history.
Before Felix Hernandez made us cry on one peculiar August afternoon, the Mariners pieced together their first no-hitter since Chris Bosio's no-no 19 years earlier. Kevin Millwood breezed through six innings with one walk and six strikeouts, well on his way to a third scoreless outing and second shutout in his last five starts. When he was pulled in the seventh inning with a groin strain, it was assumed that the no-hitter would go with him. Instead, Charlie Furbush stepped up with a strikeout, then Stephen Pryor closed out the seventh with a six-pitch whiff.
Pryor kicked off the seventh inning with back-to-back walks before handing the reins to Lucas Luetge, then Brandon League. Everyone, regardless of past performance or future potential, was getting a shot at extending the no-hitter. The ninth belonged to a Tom Wilhelmsen of days past, before the Bartender's performance was cause for concern. Wilhelmsen needed just nine pitches to cap the no-hitter, setting down the top of the order and sending a pair of groundouts right into Brendan Ryan's pocket. Even more remarkable was the poise of one Jesus Montero, who remained in the game the entire night, handling each pitcher and even contributing a hit to the team's 1-0 win.
The best part of Jesus' night, however, was the joy he got out of telling Wilhelmsen that he had just finished off a no-hitter. As he put it to ESPN.com's Jim Caple:
"I told him, 'Man, you threw a no-hitter!'" Montero said. "And he didn't know! Unbelievable."