- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - For the first three innings, Seattle ace Felix Hernandez was conjuring up thoughts of perfection.

Nine up, nine down in just 21 pitches.

And then it was gone. The control. The dominance. The lead.

“When you see me throw five walks in two innings, you realize I don’t have it,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez went from perfect to looking lost in just two innings on Monday night, giving up seven earned runs including Mark Teixeira’s ninth career grand slam in Seattle’s 7-2 loss to the New York Yankees.

With former Seattle All-Star Michael Pineda on the mound for the Yankees, the anticipated matchup between two of the top right-handers in the American League met expectations for three innings before Hernandez (8-2) fell apart in stunning fashion.

“He’s human, I guess,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He just lost it. He didn’t have it.”

The Yankees took advantage of five walks and a wild pitch that allowed a run to score as the AL wins leader lost his rhythm following a brief rain shower that dampened Safeco Field before the retractable roof could close.

With Hernandez struggling, Teixeira didn’t miss his chance to blow the game open. With only one out in the fifth, Hernandez fell behind 2-0 and grooved a pitch to Teixeira, who hit his 15th homer of the season and sixth career long ball off Hernandez.

“That was a home run ball,” Hernandez said. “I think he has six homers against me. When you make a mistake, when you fall behind, that’s when it’s fatal.”

Hernandez was the star for the first three innings when “King Felix” lived up to his moniker. Hernandez rolled through the Yankees’ lineup the first time, needing just 21 pitches - 18 strikes - and recording four strikeouts to set down the first nine batters in order.

But it all crumbled starting in the fourth.

“They started taking pitches and he was living around the corners and fell behind a little too much,” Seattle catcher Mike Zunino said.

Hernandez struggled with his footing on the wet mound and his spikes were getting clogged with dirt. A burst of rain wetted the dirt in the second and third innings before the retractable roof closed.

After Brett Gardner led off the fourth with New York’s first hit, Hernandez continually looked at his feet, kicked around the dirt and tried to dig mud out of his spikes.

Hernandez said the need to clean his spikes did alter his rhythm but wasn’t the reason he struggled.

“It was one of those days. … I just made too many mistakes and fell behind,” Hernandez said.

The seven earned runs were his most since August 2013 against Texas. Hernandez had allowed just six earned runs total in his previous five starts versus the Yankees.

“It doesn’t happen very often to Felix. He’s pitched really well against us over the years, so it was kind of nice,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.

PINEDA’S RETURN

While Hernandez couldn’t hold his command, Pineda was sharp pitching into the seventh in his first game back at Safeco Field since being traded to New York after the 2011 season.

Pineda (7-2) didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until Seth Smith’s triple in the seventh that scored Kyle Seager from first.

Pineda won his second straight decision and struck out nine, matching his second-highest total this season.

“I was very happy to be here and pitching in Safeco Field. I’m happy tonight,” Pineda said. “I had really good focus today and tried to do my best on the mound.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: LHP Chris Capuano will go to the bullpen when Masahiro Tanaka rejoins the New York rotation on Wednesday. Girardi will keep Adam Warren in the rotation.

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma had another throwing session on Monday as he continues to recover from a muscle strain in his back and side. Iwakuma is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Thursday.

UP NEXT

Yankees: C.C. Sabathia (2-7) tries to snap a two-game losing streak. Sabathia has pitched at least six innings in five of his last six starts.

Mariners: Left-handed Mike Montgomery will be called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to make his major league debut. Montgomery was 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A.

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