Pineda thrives as Yanks pound King Felix

So much for that pitchers’ duel that had been widely anticipated. It looked as if the match-up between the Yankees’ Michael Pineda and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez Monday night at Seattle might live up to its billing for the first three innings anyway.

Then Fernandez, who had not allowed a ball to reach the outfield in setting down the Yankees in order the first time through the order, somehow fell off his throne. King Felix was lucky to get off with two runs allowed in a fourth inning in which he gave up two hits and three walks. A run-scoring double play kept the inning from completely collapsing for the Mariners.

The fifth inning was another story. A leadoff walk to .155-hitting Stephen Drew was an indication this was not the King’s night. A single by rookie Ramon Flores and a walk to Brett Gardner filled the bases. Chase Headley got a run home with a fly ball, and the Yanks soon had the bags full again on a singe by Alex Rodriguez.

Hernandez fell behind 2-0 in the count to Mark Teixeira. Big mistake. Tex smoked the next pitch for a big fly to right-center. His ninth career grand slam made it 7-0 Yanks. One out later, King Felix was headed for the dugout after allowing a double to Carlos Beltran.

After a bruising weekend in Oakland where they lost three of four games to the club with the worst record in the American League, the bust-out against Fernandez was an antidote for the Yankees, who bloated the King’s ERA from 1.91 to 2.63.

Hernandez was undefeated in his previous six starts against the Yankees with a 3-0 record and 1.50 ERA in 36 1/3 innings and holding the Yankees to a .189 average with nine walks and 33 strikeouts. Monday night, the Yankees batted .333 against him with five walks and three strikeouts.

The Yankees have given Hernandez some trouble at Seattle over the years. While he is 9-6 with a 3.26 ERA over the Yanks in his career, his record against them at Safeco Field is 3-4 with a 4.52 ERA.

Pineda lived up to his end of the bargain, at least for twice as long as did Hernandez. Making his first start against the club that dealt him to the Yankees three years ago, Pineda had a four-hit shutout going through six innings with nine strikeouts.

Then almost as suddenly as what happened to his former teammate, Pineda could not get anybody out. He was reached for a single by Kyle Seager, a triple by Seth Smith and a double by Austin Jackson for two runs. After issuing his second walk, Pineda was replaced by Justin Wilson, who did a first-rate snuff job with a strikeout and a double play.

Still, it was an impressive game for Pineda against his old team, which is something Robinson Cano could not say. The former Yankees second baseman is struggling (.246, 2 HR, 16 RBI) and was 0-for-4.

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