Mariners hope King Felix still has Padres’ number

Field Level Media

April 24, 2019 at 7:28 am.

Even when he was indeed the “King,” Felix Hernandez had mixed results against the San Diego Padres.

In 13 career starts against the Padres, Hernandez had a 6-4 record with a 2.88 ERA.

But most of his struggles with San Diego came in Seattle, where Hernandez had a 1-3 record with a 5.70 ERA.

Hernandez, however, has been royalty when pitching at Petco Park. In the home of the Padres, Hernandez has a 5-1 record with a 1.63 ERA, a 0.775 WHIP and an opponents’ batting average of .170.

In 60 2/3 innings in eight starts at Petco Park, Hernandez has allowed 11 runs on 35 hits and 12 walks with 69 strikeouts.

“I like the mound here,” Hernandez said years ago during what was then an annual Mariners visit to San Diego when the two teams were “natural rivals” in interleague play. “The mound is always the same and it stays the same throughout the game,” Hernandez continued.

Now 33, Hernandez returns to his throne at Petco on Wednesday afternoon as the Mariners conclude a two-game visit to San Diego trying to stop the Padres’ longest winning streak in the series. Franmil Reyes hit two of the Padres’ three home runs Tuesday night to score a fifth straight win over the Mariners.

Hernandez (1-1, 4.91 ERA) will face Padres rookie Chris Paddack (0-1, 2.25 ERA) Wednesday in a pairing of right-handers.

Although his stuff might no longer be that of a two-time American League ERA champion and a six-time All-Star, Hernandez is still tough when he keeps the ball down in the zone.

“Hernandez is one of the great pitchers of this century,” Padres manager Andy Green said several seasons ago. And he wasn’t joking.

Even after last year’s 8-14 season with a 5.55 ERA, Hernandez has a 169-129 career record with a 3.35 ERA in 407 career starts and one relief appearance. He is Seattle’s all-time leader in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts (2,480 with 96 coming in 90 2/3 innings against the Padres).

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the 23-year-old Paddack, who will be making his fifth career start while facing the Mariners for the first time.

In the first 20 innings of his major league career, Paddack has allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits and seven walks with 21 strikeouts — for a .134 opponents’ batting average and a 0.800 WHIP.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Paddack will be seeking to give the Padres a third straight win to cap what had been a disappointing homestand. The Padres opened the eight-game homestand with five straight losses — stretching their overall losing streak to six straight games — before rallying with two straight wins going into Wednesday.

“All we want from Paddack is more of the same,” said Green. “We like everything he is doing from demeanor to pitch mix to command.”

For all his good numbers, Paddack is missing one thing — his first big league win. But the Padres are 3-1 in his first four starts.

“If the team wins, I’m fine as long as I’ve contributed,” said Paddack.