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.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.