The Future Is Now: Felix Shines in MLB Debut

No matter where diehard Mariners fans were Thursday morning, whether it be at work in Seattle or in a New York City high-rise, they were doing anything possible to catch a glimpse of Felix Hernandez's major league debut in Detroit. In typical fashion, The King didn't disappoint, despite getting the loss in the Tigers' 3-1 win.

Hernandez, the youngest pitcher to debut in the major leagues since Todd Van Poppel did so as a 19-year-old with Oakland in 1991, battled early nerves before gaining his composure and finding a groove in his first big league start.

Showcasing an overpowering fastball that topped out at 97 mph and two devastating offspeed pitches - a curve and change-up - the hard-throwing right-hander struck out four and allowed two runs, just one earned, on three hits over five innings. He was limited to an 80-pitch pitch count, and at 81 through five, was taken out of the game.

More impressive than his stat line was the way the young Venezuelan recovered from what very easily could have been a disastrous first inning. Seemingly every Detroit batter took a patient approach to the plate against The King in their first plate appearance of the day, sensing that the 19-year-old might struggle with command in the early going. That he did.

Placido Polanco led off the game with a single to center field under Hernandez's glove. The Mariners' righty then gave up back-to-back walks to Carlos Guillen and Chris Shelton, loading the bases with nobody out and Magglio Ordonez coming to the plate. Ordonez delivered a single to left, scoring Polanco with still nobody down.

Then, as he has so often in his 26 months as a Mariner farmhand, Hernandez found a rhythm. He forced Dmitri Young to ground into a 3-2-3 double play, then fanned Ivan Rodriguez for his first big league strikeout, ending the inning and stranding runners at second and third.

Detroit scored again in the third when Mariners catcher Wiki Gonzalez let a Hernandez offering bounce of his glove with two outs, allowing Polanco to score from third. Polanco had led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, advanced to second on a steal and reached third on a ground ball. Hernandez struck out Ordonez to end the inning.

Nook Logan and Guillen also fell victim to the strikeout on the day against The King.

Hernandez (0-1, 1.80 ERA) took the hard-luck loss but retired the final six batters he faced in order, leaving the game having thrown 49 strikes and 32 balls.

Raul Ibanez accounted for Seattle's only run with a solo home run to left field in the seventh.

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