Joe Girardi said early Saturday afternoon that the key to beating Hernandez would be taking advantage of opportunities, if the 26-year-old ace allowed any.
The Yankees had one.
"That was it," Girardi said. "Usually, you get more than one, but we only got one today. That's how good he was."
It came in the first inning, when Robinson Cano sent a two-out double into the left-center-field gap, but Hernandez induced Mark Teixeira to pop out to end the closest thing to a Yankees threat.
Only six more balls left the infield after Cano's double, but all were caught. One other batter -- Ichiro Suzuki -- recorded a hit, and it extended the former Mariners institution's hitting streak to 11 games with New York.
"[Hernandez] came out with the first pitch of the game and threw a strike, and then we knew he was going to continue to throw strikes from that point on," said Curtis Granderson, who went hitless while drawing one of the Yankees' two walks.
Hernandez pounded the strike zone with fastballs that both cut and sank, a slider, a curveball and a changeup that finished three of his six strikeouts. He threw 101 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Yankees counterpart Hiroki Kuroda mostly kept Seattle off the scoreboard, limiting the Mariners to a lone second-inning run and stranding runners throughout. But while Kuroda had to work a bit during his 6 1/3 innings, Hernandez breezed through the New York lineup with ease for his third shutout of the year and second in his past five starts.
"I told him it was probably the most impressive start I've ever seen as a manager," Seattle skipper Eric Wedge said. "I mean, I've seen a lot of good and great pitchers over the years. This ballpark, that lineup, the swings and misses, the miss-hits with so many good hitters over there, the efficiency in which he did it in a 1-0 ballgame ... it doesn't get much better than that."
Hernandez beat the Yankees for the second time in as many weeks, following up an outing in which he allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings, though he hit three batters -- Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro -- and consistently escaped trouble. This time he allowed just two hits, and only Cano made it as far as second base.
"All my pitches were working," said Hernandez, who improved to 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA in seven starts between the former and current Yankee Stadium. "I was throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead in the count, and that's the key against those guys. You've got to throw strikes. You've got to go after them."
The Mariners claimed the lead early, as John Jaso led off the second inning with a double into the right-field corner, then scored on Mike Carp's single. On a full count, Kuroda missed a front-door slider that the left-handed Carp sent the opposite way for the game's only run.
"He was phenomenal, as well," catcher Russell Martin said of Kuroda. "He gave up one run. Normally, with this lineup, we're able to score a few runs to get a win for our starter, but he pitched well. He did everything he could to keep us in the game, we just couldn't get any offense going."
The Mariners continued to threaten, putting a man on in the fourth and putting runners in scoring position in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Kuroda escaped every time, inducing popouts or weak ground balls, until Girardi lifted him in the seventh after he allowed a double to Eric Thames and hit Brendan Ryan with a pitch. Boone Logan escaped trouble, and the bullpen kept the game within reach.
But with Hernandez on the mound, New York never had another opportunity to score.
"I believed that this offense is going to come through at the end," Kuroda said. "If you pitch as long as he was pitching, you'd assume he'd throw mistake pitches, and he didn't today. It's a little bit frustrating, but it is what it is."