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Yankees set to face King Felix in the Bronx

( – The New York Yankees were lucky enough not to face Felix Hernandez in Seattle’s first visit to the Bronx. They won’t be so lucky on Monday when they play a makeup game against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

Hernandez wasn’t scheduled to pitch for Seattle when it arrived for a three- game set from April 29-May 1. It didn’t matter, as the Mariners won both games it played, while the middle contest of the series was postponed due to rain.

Now, the Mariners can make it three straight wins on Monday when Hernandez takes the hill trying for his fifth straight win. Hernandez has been brilliant of late, and most recently beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday, as he held them to a run and four hits in 8 2/3 innings. He also struck out nine for the second straight start and improved to 7-1 to go along with a 2.57 ERA.

“I think we’re all getting accustomed to how he’s been throwing,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “He’s just coming out and establishing the fastball early and just going to his off-speed pitches when he needs to. He’s been able to go the first few innings of games just using his fastball, then going to off-speed pitches a little later and that’s getting him deeper into ballgames. His command has been really good and his stuff has just been electric.”

The former American League Cy Young Award winner has allowed one run in both of his last two starts and pitched at least eight innings in each of his last three.

Hernandez has faced the Yankees 16 times and is 8-5 against them with a 2.89 ERA.

Of course another trip to New York for Seattle means another visit from former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who left the team this offseason as a free agent. Cano was a big part of the Mariners two wins in the Bronx earlier this season, but has missed his last four games dealing with a hand contusion.

Seattle, which is in the midst of playing 14 straight days, didn’t miss Cano this weekend, as it took two of three from Detroit, including a 4-0 win in Sunday’s rubber match at Safeco Field. Roenis Elias scattered three hits and registered his first shutout to lead the way, while four different Mariners knocked in a run.

“I feel like he has gotten better and better every start,” said Zunino. “For him to go out there and piece together nine great innings and come with a big win against a big team, it was good morale for the team as we head over to New York.”

New York, meanwhile, endured a heartbreaking loss on Sunday, as Minnesota scored six times in the ninth to deal the Yanks a 7-2 loss. New York closer David Robertson was unable to hold a one-run, ninth-inning lead, as he served up five runs in just two-thirds of a frame.

“I just couldn’t make any good pitches,” Robertson said. “I couldn’t make any quality pitches to get outs. Walk two guys in the inning and then intentionally walk Joe Mauer, it’s a tough break. I stunk today. What can I say? I didn’t get the job done.”

Now the Yankees turn to righty David Phelps, who is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Phelps lost his second straight start on Tuesday in St. Louis, as he surrendered five runs (3 earned) and eight hits in six innings.

Phelps is 1-0 in two games (1 start) versus the Mariners with a 1.23 ERA.

New York won four of its seven meetings with the Mariners last season.

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