Despite entering Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Mariners having scored 38 runs through five games, the offense cooled off considerably and couldn't muster up any contact against Seattle starter Felix Hernandez.
So much so that Hernandez enjoyed his best start of the season, tossing a complete-game shutout with a season-high 13 strikeouts. With the outing, the right-hander lowered his ERA to a miniscule 3.09.
It marked the second time this month that Boston has encountered trouble with a young ace. Before Thursday's power outing, the Red Sox offense similarly surrendered to Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg on June 8.
One by one, Strasburg mowed down the order at Fenway Park en route to racking up 13 strikeouts that night. This time around, Hernandez delivered the haymakers at Safeco Field, striking out every Red Sox starter except for Mike Aviles.
Hernandez's performance was remarkable, considering he unleashed three straight balls to Daniel Nava to start the game. From that point on, he cruised against the competition, yielding just five hits and one walk through nine innings.
For all the attention that Boston's young cogs –– Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Kalish and Nava –– have earned, Hernandez overmatched them with veteran savvy. The right-hander combined to tally six of his 13 strikeouts against that trio.
His offspeed stuff halted David Ortiz's chase for 400 career home runs. Despite managing to collect a single in the eighth inning, the Red Sox designated hitter still whiffed in one of his at-bats.
In order for Hernandez to achieve that success, he mixed all five of his pitches with relative ease. By the end of the night, the 28-year-old had fired 128 pitches, with 84 of them going for strikes.
That performance was Hernandez's greatest start against the Red Sox since April 11, 2007, when he tossed a complete-game, one-hitter with six strikeouts to blank Boston for a 3-0 victory.
At that point, Hernandez was still a budding star like Strasburg. Regardless of the slight age disparity between Hernandez and Strasburg, the young aces have been giving the Red Sox fits as of late.
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