SEATTLE - A day earlier, Michael Pineda paid homage to his mentor. "He's the king," Pineda had said of Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. "He's great. He's unbelievable on the mound. All pitchers love to see him [pitch].''
But he left little doubt about what he most wanted to see from Monday night's matchup. "I want to win it," he said with a smile.
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The pupil outclassed the teacher this time. And it wasn't close.
Pineda, who early in his Mariners career learned at the feet of Hernandez, helped upend King Felix in a 7-2 shocker in front of 26,082 at Safeco Field.
Pineda (7-2, 3.33), traded by Seattle before the 2012 season in the Jesus Montero deal and making his first appearance in the Pacific Northwest as a Yankee, pitched six shutout innings before giving up two runs in the seventh. He struck out nine and walked two. "I'm very excited for this game,'' he said. "I had really good focus today. Everything was working good. I had a little power today and my changeup was working well. My slider, too."
After beginning with three perfect innings that required only 21 pitches, Hernandez had a 1.83 ERA and 0.86 WHIP (48 hits and 15 walks in 732/3 innings). Then the Yankees somehow got seven runs, six hits and five walks off him in the next 12/3 innings.
"If he's not the best in the game, he's right there with the best in the game,'' Chase Headley said. "When you're playing a guy like him, you have to go out there and really try to grind. You scratch a couple runs across, you feel pretty good, and then obviously we got the big blow [Mark Teixeira's grand slam]. But those things don't happen very often against that type of pitcher. Good win for us coming off a couple of tough games in Oakland.''
Hernandez, who fell to 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA, allowed five runs in the fifth, capped by Teixeira's ninth grand slam -- his sixth career homer off King Felix. The five walks was one shy of his career high.
"His stuff moves so much and I think that's what got him into trouble a little bit,'' Teixeira said. "His stuff was moving so much, it was tough to control. He walked a few guys. Give our hitters credit. We didn't swing at the bad pitches when he threw them.''
King Felix needed only six pitches to get out of the first and threw 18 strikes and three balls through three innings. But it began to unravel in the fourth.
Brett Gardner singled for the Yankees' first hit and Headley singled to put runners at the corners before Hernandez's wild pitch made it 1-0.
Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira -- who was 19-for-64 (.297) with five homers and eight walks vs. Hernandez entering the game -- walked to load the bases for Brian McCann, who bounced into a double play to make it 2-0.
Stephen Drew walked, Ramon Flores singled and Gardner walked to load the bases with none out in the fifth. Headley hit a sacrifice fly and A-Rod's 2,987th career hit reloaded the bases. Then Teixeira hit his 15th homer -- and Hernandez knew it immediately, punching his glove a split-second after contact.
Said Teixeira, "I think it's a lot of luck. He's a great pitcher. I've faced him so much. There's very few guys for 10-plus years you face on a regular basis. He's one of them. I've just gotten a couple of good pitches to hit.''
He added, "It felt big. The way Michael was pitching, we didn't know how many we needed. But any time you can score seven runs off Felix Hernandez, you just take it. It doesn't happen very much.''
"Felix is really good, but so is Mark,'' Joe Girardi said. "Mark's a really good player. It's quite a battle when they match up.''
Girardi had said beforehand that Pineda's being too wound up for the game might be a concern. "I think he handled it pretty well,'' he said. "I always worry about those type of things when guys come back to face their old team for the first time, but I think he handled it really well.''
Pineda pitched to four batters in the seventh and retired none of them, allowing a single by Kyle Seager, an RBI triple by Seth Smith, an RBI double on an 0-and-2 pitch to Austin Jackson and a walk. But Justin Wilson picked up a strikeout and a double-play ball to keep the damage to a minimum.
Dellin Betances picked up three strikeouts in the eighth and has struck out 12 in 41/3 innings in his last four appearances. He even had to get an extra out, as Nelson Cruz struck out but reached base on a wild pitch. Betances has not allowed an earned run and has given up 10 hits in 281/3 innings, striking out 47.