Felix, Branyan carry Mariners in victory
First baseman's homer seals Hernandez's 50th win
DETROIT -- It often is the case in baseball that an offensive outburst one day is followed by a pitching duel the next.
So it could be said that Seattle feels good about winning a game in which it recorded just two hits, the second of which came on a 415-foot homer that was the difference.
That blast came courtesy of the powerful bat of Russell Branyan and it accounted for the Mariners' only two runs in a 2-1 victory over Detroit on Wednesday evening.
Branyan's two-out blast came on a 1-0 count against Detroit lefty specialist Bobby Seay (1-2), who entered the game leading the American League in holds. It was Branyan's 24th home run of the season, which ties a career high.
"I feel like for the last two weeks I have been trying to pull the ball," Branyan said. "I'm trying to do whatever it takes to prepare myself to be successful."
Seattle starter Felix Hernandez (11-3) was his usual strong self, throwing seven innings while allowing one run on six hits and striking out eight. The win extended Hernandez's unbeaten streak to 11 games -- a stretch in which he is 7-0. Mark Lowe pitched a perfect eighth and David Aardsma a clean ninth for his 23rd save in 25 chances.
The Mariners weren't doing any better against Detroit's Armando Galarraga, who was as dominating as he has been since early April. He allowed just one hit through 7 1/3 innings then gave up a leadoff walk in the eighth as his pitch count climbed above 110. He induced a groundout from Ronny Cedeno for the first out before being replaced by Seay.
Seay took care of Ichiro Suzuki, who grounded into a force play, but Branyan came through with two outs, driving the sidearm slider deep in the right-center-field stands.
"[Branyan] has struggled a bit of late but he came up big tonight," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Branyan appreciated being left in to face Seay, an opportunity that in past years he probably wouldn't have had.
"I feel like I have just the same quality of at-bats against lefties as I do righties," Branyan said.
Until the seventh inning, the Mariners only reached second base once. But Hernandez kept his team in the game long enough to pick up his 50th career win. He gave up an RBI single to Clete Thomas in the third, and Thomas plated Placido Polanco who had singled and stolen second.
Hernandez had found himself in a first-inning jam when Curtis Granderson led off with a single and Polanco followed with another, sending Granderson to third. Hernandez escaped by striking out Miguel Cabrera and Thomas and getting Josh Anderson on a routine fly ball.
"I had to battle a lot," Hernandez said, particularly of his first inning. "They jumped on the fastball a little bit."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland agreed, and wished his team could have capitalized on the first-inning rally in which the Tigers stranded three runners.
"We kind of jumped on him a little bit [in the first inning] but we didn't get anything out of it," Leyland said. "[Hernandez] was pretty stingy and [Seattle] has really good arms at the end of their bullpen."
Hernandez slightly twisted his left ankle in the third inning attempting to catch a soft line drive but stayed in the game after being checked out by the training staff. Wakamatsu said he knew for certain that his starter was fine after Branyan's home run in the eighth.
"I looked down and he was jumping around the dugout," Wakamatsu said.
Hernandez credited Galarraga, a good friend of his, for being his equal on the mound on Wednesday. And it came with some coincidence that his 50th career win came against Detroit.
"This is where I started my career, right here at this locker," he said with a smile, referring to his Major League debut on Aug. 4, 2005, in Detroit when he was charged with a loss having allowed just two runs in six innings.
And as for diving around the infield after batted balls?
"I won't stop doing that," he said with an even bigger smile.
Mike Scott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.