The Mariners ace wound up with a no-decision in Seattle's 3-2 loss to the Angels, departing with a 2-2 tie after six innings. But Hernandez would have been in position to record his career-high tying 19th win -- and retain a shot at his first 20-win season -- had Trout not robbed Jesus Montero of a three-run homer in the fourth inning with a spectacular catch over the center-field wall.
Hernandez had his sights set on getting to 20 wins for the first time, something only Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer have done for the Mariners. He acknowledged it hurt to see that opportunity slip away as he now stands 18-9 with a 3.53 ERA with one start remaining either Friday or Saturday in the season-ending series against the A's at Safeco Field.
"You're disappointed," he said. "I want to get to 20 every year. But what are you going to do? Just go work harder and be ready for this season. And I'm not done yet."
Hernandez did surpass 200 innings for the eighth straight season with his six innings of work, putting him at 201 2/3 for the year. His six strikeouts raised his season total to 191, meaning he'll need nine more in his final outing to become the fourth pitcher in MLB history with seven straight seasons of 200 innings and 200 strikeouts.
That would put him tied with Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens and trailing only the nine straight 200-200 seasons of Tom Seaver.
Hernandez was in all kinds of hot water in the first two innings, but somehow escaped with only one run allowed.
He gave up three hits, a walk, two wild pitches and allowed a runner on a catcher's interference call in the first inning alone, but limited the damage to one run on a sacrifice fly by David Murphy. Jesus Sucre threw out Erick Aybar trying to steal to help out and Hernandez struck out David Freese with the bases loaded to end the frame.
The Angels got two more hits -- including a triple by Johnny Giavotella -- and another walk in the second, but couldn't cross the plate. Hernandez helped his own cause with an excellent defensive play on an attempted squeeze bunt by Aybar, fielding the ball in his glove and flipping it to Sucre in time to tag Giavotella sliding home.
"I would say they had a good approach the first two innings," Hernandez said. "They were looking for breaking balls and changeups every at-bat, so we changed up and went with more fastballs. I was a little wild the first two innings, but I settled down and made good pitches."
Hernandez allowed eight hits with two runs in a 97-pitch performance, showing no signs of the elbow tightness that ended his previous start after 5 2/3 innings in Texas.
"He didn't have his best stuff, but he battled and pitched and gave us a chance to win the game," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "Most of his innings were stressful. I just felt that [six innings] was enough. He passed the test [about the elbow concerns] and will be ready for the next one."