SEATTLE — I asked Pat Dean who the best pitcher he’s ever been matched up against is, and he had to think about it for quite awhile. But we both agreed that the answer will get a lot easier after tonight’s game.
Dean gets his second start tonight, and when he’s not pitching, Felix Hernandez will be. The King’s Court is already gathering in their usual left-field corner spot — hundreds of fans in bright yellow t-shirts, armed with K cards to wave when King Felix strikes someone out.
Dean, who allowed two runs and just three hits over six innings last weekend against J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays, said he’s glad there will be an electric atmosphere in Safeco Field tonight. “It helps me, it really does. Seeing a guy pitching well makes me want to do the same thing,” said the 27-year-old lefthander. “I’m definitely excited for this game. … It’s going to be fun to watch him work.”
King Felix, 4-3 this season, has allowed fewer home runs per nine innings against the Twins than any pitcher since 2005, and he’s registered more strikeouts per nine than any pitcher but Justin Verlander. Yet some of the current Twins have decent numbers against Hernandez — Jor Mauer is 14-for-41 (.341) with two home runs, while Trevor Plouffe is 6-for-11 (.545). But Brian Dozier is 2-for-11 (.182).
Hernandez has shut out the Twins twice, and is 8-5 overall with a 1.93 ERA in 17 career starts.
So, Pat Dean, have you come up with the best pitcher you’ve ever faced yet? “Yeah, I think so,” Dean said with a grin. “J.A. Happy.”
Here are tonight’s lineups for the first of a three-game series: