NEW YORK -- The bullpen session that right-hander Felix Hernandez had on Friday at Yankee Stadium went well, but his return to the Mariners' starting rotation has been pushed back six more days. Instead of starting against the Tigers on Wednesday, Hernandez is scheduled to face the Angels on May 15 in the opener of a three-game series at Safeco Field. "He's fine, but we feel this is the smart thing to do with him, and he felt comfortable with it," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said prior to Saturday's game against the Yankees. "He will throw a simulated game on Tuesday [in Detroit], have another bullpen on the 11th, and if everything goes well, he'll start on the 15th."
Hernandez last pitched on April 18, lasting just one inning before leaving the game against the Twins when he experienced discomfort in his right elbow. Ensuing tests disclosed a strained muscle, and the staff ace was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19. Hernandez said on Saturday that he threw all of his pitches during Friday's 53-pitch bullpen session, including curveballs and sliders. "The last pitch I threw, a fastball, was at 100 percent," Hernandez said. "I felt a lot better this time than the first or second [bullpen sessions]." The primary reason for the change was the fact Hernandez has been idle for so long. "Considering the length of the layoff, this is the right thing to do," Hargrove said. "Not just with Felix, but anybody who has had that long of a layoff." The organization considered sending Hernandez out on a rehab assignment but decided that the three-inning simulated game would take the place of that. An oops pitch: Left-handed reliever George Sherrill threw 20 pitches on Friday night, 13 of them for strikes. But he said that only one of the pitches he threw was "a bad pitch, and it cost me three runs." The pitch came on a full count to Johnny Damon in the seventh inning and landed into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium. "I don't remember the last time I gave up a home run," Sherrill said on Saturday. "I didn't give up any last season." Damon's three-run blast was the first home run off Sherrill since Sept. 18, 2005, against the Rangers, a streak of 88 consecutive games and 50 innings without allowing a home run. "As soon as it left my hand, I knew the ball wasn't going to go where I wanted," he said. "It was supposed to be away, but went over the middle. I wanted to throw a strike, because I didn't want to walk him and load the bases, and he knew that. He got what he wanted." Told later about the home run he allowed against the Rangers, Sherrill quickly remembered. "It was Tex," Sherrill said, referring to Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira. "I hung a changeup to him." Asked how he remembered the kind of pitch it was, Sherrill quipped, "I always remember the bad pitches I made more than the good ones." Hold the fans: The Mariners had 51 plate appearances during Friday night's wild victory over the Yankees, and only two batters struck out -- Jose Guillen in the second inning and Kenji Johjima in the fourth. There is nothing out of the ordinary about that. Seattle went into the game as the second-toughest team in the American League to strike out, averaging 4.78 strikeouts every nine innings. The Twins ranked first with a 4.75 average. Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt ranks second with one strikeout every 21 plate appearances, second baseman Jose Lopez is fifth at 13.2 and Jose Vidro is ninth with one strikeout every 12.1 plate appearances. On the other side of the spectrum, first baseman Richie Sexson is whiffing once every 4.8 at-bats, and third baseman Adrian Beltre once every 6.1 at-bats. This 'n' that: With left-hander Eric O'Flaherty picking up the win on Friday night, the Mariners' relief corps improved its record to 4-1 this season and came on the heels of the 'pen's loss in Boston the previous night. Seattle had been the only Major League team without a loss out of the bullpen. ... Since April 22, the Mariners have played seven teams in an 11-game stretch -- the Angels, Rangers, Athletics, Royals, White Sox, Red Sox and Yankees. And that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the first time that has happened in the big leagues since the White Sox did it in 1966. On deck: The Mariners' four-game series in New York will continue on Sunday at 10:05 a.m. PT, with left-hander Jarrod Washburn (2-2, 2.88 ERA) going for another quality start and his third win. His ERA leads Mariners starters, and so does his total of 34 1/3 innings. Washburn has pitched at least six innings in all five of his starts and allowed three or fewer runs four times. Darrell Rasner (0-1, 3.86 ERA) will start for the Yankees.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.