Felix Hernandez beats Twins for fifth shutout of season

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Felix Hernandez pitched a five-hitter Monday against the Twins to become the first American League pitcher since David Wells in 1998 to notch five shutouts in a season.

It was his ninth career shutout.

Hernandez has won nine straight decisions to put himself right in the thick of the AL Cy Young race. The shutout stat can’t hurt. Besides Wells, the only AL starter to record five shutouts in a season since 1990 was Roger Clemens in 1992. In the eight seasons from 2003-2010, there were six years in which no AL starter had more than two shutouts.

Hernandez made an unlucky loser of Liam Hendriks tonight in a 1-0 game. Hendriks pitched a three-hitter in his first career complete game, yet he fell to 0-7 on the season.

Hernandez hasn’t lost since June 12. At 13-7, he’s still three wins behind David Price and Jered Weaver. However, he is closing in on Price’s AL ERA lead (Price is at 2.28, Hernandez 2.43 and Justin Verlander 2.50). He’s also third in the league with 184 strikeouts.

The Angels to lower the right field wall

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The Los Angeles Angels announced today that they will lower the right field wall at Angel Stadium from 18 feet to eight feet.

The stated reason: to make room for a new out-of-town scoreboard and “philosophical changes.” Obviously, though, helping out lefty power hitters is on the agenda too. As it was, Angel Stadium was in the bottom ten of all parks in allowing homers for lefties.

One of their own lefties is Kole Calhoun, who is a pull hitter. Another one could be Shohei Ohtani, who is a lefty hitter. Although, as a righty pitcher, that could harm him against opposing lefty batters. I’m assuming, though, that the Angels ran a bunch of numbers to establish that this move helps them more than it hurts them, or else they wouldn’t be doing it.