King Felix ties Big Unit atop Mariners' K list

King Felix ties Big Unit atop Mariners' K list

NEW YORK -- On a day Felix Hernandez walked a career-high-tying six batters, it was his four strikeouts that will be most remembered, as the King pulled into a tie with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson for the Mariners all-time strikeout record on Saturday in a 3-2 win over the Yankees.

Hernandez notched his 2,162nd career punchout when he got shortstop Didi Gregorius looking for the final out in the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. He'll have a chance to break the Big Unit's record in his next start on Friday in Anaheim. He's also now one shy of Jamie Moyer's franchise record of 145 wins.

"It's nice. I wasn't happy with my performance today, but we got the win," Hernandez said. "And to tie Randy, it's an honor to be there with him. He's a great guy, first of all. He taught me a lot when he was in Seattle. We talked a lot. Just to be up there with him, it's an honor."

The 30-year-old Mariners ace came into the day four shy of Johnson's franchise mark -- and he reached that on his 106th and final pitch before turning a 3-1 lead over to the bullpen. The Mariners held on over the final four frames to give Hernandez his first win of the season. He's posted a 1.00 ERA in three starts, while allowing just nine hits and posting 20 strikeouts in 18 innings.

But Hernandez has also issued an uncharacteristic 13 walks -- and that is something he knows must be corrected.

"I just had a lot of movement on the ball," Hernandez said. "The ball was going everywhere. I just need to tighten up my mechanics a little more and be ready for my next outing.

"You're not going to believe me, but in the bullpen I was painting every pitch. When I came out for the game, it wasn't there. The first inning was fine, then I started jumping a lot and opening up on the front side. I just have to calm down a little bit."

Hernandez's 2,162nd strikeout

First-year manager Scott Servais said Hernandez's high pitch count was the biggest concern, as he lasted just five frames and had trouble finding the zone. He experienced similar issues on Opening Day, when he issued five walks on a day he one-hit the Rangers for six frames.

"That's not really Felix," Servais said. "Mechanically, he might not be consistent, staying back over the rubber. He just hasn't had a feel for command of his fastball. His secondary pitches are always good. But, obviously, it's something he needs to tighten up. We'd like to see him go deeper in the game. But he kept us in the game with what he had, and that's what we ask our guys to do."

After the Mariners lost his last start to the A's, a game in which he threw seven scoreless innings with three hits and 10 strikeouts, Hernandez was just pleased to see his club win its third straight to improve to 5-6, as it continued putting a 1-5 homestand in the rear-view mirror.

"That's the big thing for us as a team," Hernandez said. "I'm just happy we got the win. We just came here and played. We don't want to pay attention to what happened at home. We just have to focus on the next day. That's the thing about baseball. You've got the next day to get the job done. We're here to win at least two games out of three -- and now hopefully tomorrow we can sweep the series."

Johnson notched his 2,162 strikeouts in 1,838 1/3 innings over 274 games during 10 seasons in Seattle from 1989-98. He finished his 22-year career ranked No. 2 on MLB's all-time strikeout list with 4,875, trailing only the 5,714 of Nolan Ryan.

Hernandez is just beginning his 12th season with the Mariners, and now has 2,162 strikeouts in 2,280 1/3 innings over 337 starts. He ranks third among active MLB pitchers in strikeouts, behind CC Sabathia (2,582) and Bartolo Colon (2,250). Sabathia started the game for the Yankees and had five strikeouts before being replaced after 4 2/3 innings after giving up seven hits and three runs.

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