SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez has gone two starts without a win, including Friday night's 8-0 loss to the Angels in which the Mariners' ace gave up three home runs and departed after a season-low 3 1/3 innings. Hernandez had back stiffness in last Sunday's outing, so it was natural to wonder if his back was acting up again Friday in the chilly night air of Safeco Field. Not so, according to Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.
"We checked with Felix about the back issues, and there was nothing," Wakamatsu said on Saturday afternoon. "[Pitching coach] Rick [Adair] is working on some mechanical issues, and we'll address those, but the back was not a factor last night." So what was it? "I don't think it's emotions," Wakamatsu said. "I saw it in the game before last when he had the stiff back and all of a sudden [his pitches] just weren't consistent. I thought coming out of Spring Training that he was as good as I've seen him. I think he's regressed a little bit for whatever reason." Wakamatsu said one thing he noticed during Friday's start was that Hernandez featured "about eight deliveries." "When he got frustrated out there, I thought he tried to create things, and that's what you don't see in him," Wakamatsu said. "You see a lot more consistency. Just the action of his pitches, to me, was different. It's evident when you give up that many extra base hits -- especially him -- and very little strikeouts."