Hernandez gave hug to Adrian Beltre before his first at-bat to congratulate him on 3,000 hits, while Phelps tried to pitch like his friend Jose Fernandez on what would’ve been the Marlins’ ace’s 25th birthday.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Besides picking up a 6-4 win to open the nine-game road trip, Monday’s game against the Rangers offered a pair of Mariners pitchers a chance to honor their former teammates and friends.
Yes, the Mariners are in the midst of a tough battle for a wild card spot with several other teams. But taking the time to also remember things like the friendship and relationships that are built over the course of a long season and career is something that should be celebrated in baseball.
So after giving up two-run homer to Rougned Odor in the first inning on a regrettable pitch up in the zone, Felix Hernandez shrugged off the mistake when he saw Adrian Beltre striding to the plate.
The two men have had a playful friendship stemming back to Beltre’s days with the Mariners. Beltre playing the role of grouchy and serious big brother and Hernandez as his precocious and annoying little brother. It’s continued over the years despite playing on rival teams in the American League West. While the Mariners and Rangers battle 19 times a season, there is another mini-battle of good-natured trash talking and one-upmanship between the two.
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So a day after Beltre notched his 3,000th career hit — an epic milestone for any player — Hernandez was going to offer his congratulations in person. And he didn’t wait till after the game. The Mariners ace called timeout and walked to the plate where Beltre was standing waiting to hit. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings was confused at first and removed his mask somehow thinking there was some sort of confrontation happening. Instead, Hernandez gave his friend a big hug and offered congratulations.
“It was definitely the first thing that came to my mind was go to home plate and congratulate him,” Hernandez said. “What he did (Sunday) was unbelievable”
Hernandez warned Beltre that he would do it when he talked to him on Sunday evening.
“I told him not to be afraid because I’m going to homeplate to give you a hug,” Hernandez said. “He said, ‘no you won’t.’”
But of course Hernandez did it anyway.
Beltre singled off him moments later. But Hernandez did retire him in his second at-bat and…