Felix eyes ASG start following win No. 11

Fans 6 over 7 scoreless innings, equals Keuchel's win total

Felix eyes ASG start following win No. 11

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez finished his first half with a powerful seven-inning scoreless performance in a 7-2 win over the Angels on Thursday and now will wait to see if he's chosen to start his second straight All-Star Game on Tuesday.

The Mariners ace improved to 11-5 with a 2.84 ERA, tied with Dallas Keuchel of the Astros for the most wins in the American League. Hernandez figures as a long shot to be selected to start given Keuchel's 2.14 ERA heading into his final start of the first half Saturday in St. Petersburg against the Rays, but Hernandez is lined up to pitch Tuesday on four days' rest and certainly has made a strong case for himself again.

Hernandez's impressive outing

"I certainly think he has," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "It may fall into place for him. I don't think I have to make any type of statement when it comes to Felix and what he's capable of doing and the stage he pitched on last year. If it was me, I'd start him."

He'll get no argument from the Angels, who came in having won nine of their last 10. But Hernandez continued his recent run of dominance against the Halos, improving to 6-0 with a 0.74 ERA in nine starts against the AL West rivals since the start of 2014.

The Mariners ace is 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA in four starts against the Angels this season, allowing just two runs -- on a pair of solo home runs by Mike Trout -- on 14 hits in 27 innings, with 32 strikeouts and seven walks.

"They have a great lineup," Hernandez said. "It's a challenge to go out and pitch against those guys. You just have to go after 'em."

Hernandez escapes 7th-inning jam

Hernandez matched his career high for victories before the All-Star break with his 11th win, something he also accomplished last year, and is now 32-11 with a 2.46 ERA in 58 starts before the break since 2013. The 32 wins are the second most in the Majors behind Max Scherzer's 33.

Seattle is 12-6 in games started by Hernandez and 28-40 in other games, including three of the team's four wins against the Angels this season.

"Time and time again, when we need that big win he seems to come through for us," said McClendon.

Hernandez didn't allow a runner past second until his final inning when the Angels loaded the bases with a one-out single and two walks. But with Vidal Nuno warming in the 'pen, Hernandez dug deep and struck out catcher Carlos Perez and got pinch-hitter Efren Navarro to ground out to Kyle Seager, ending his night with a primal scream and pump of the fist.

Catcher Mike Zunino said Hernandez has faced the Angels so much that it just comes down to a mental chess match and hitting his spots.

"Felix's stuff is so good, it just comes down to execution," Zunino said. "If he can put it where he wants, it's no surprise what he has done to them anymore. All those batters have probably seen everything he's got, but when he executes like he did today, he really dialed it in and pitched to contact and did a great job limiting damage."

The Mariners gave Hernandez some help in this one. After totaling just nine runs in his last seven starts, Seattle cranked out a season-best 19 hits and crossed the plate seven times.

"The guys came out swinging really hot bats," he said. "We were having fun in the dugout. When I saw that, I knew it was going to be a good game."

As for what comes next in his sixth All-Star appearance?

"For me, it would be an honor. I'd love to start the game," Hernandez said. "We'll see."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.