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SEA@PIT: Felix dominates over eight to earn fifth win

Felix Hernandez will look to continue his mastery of the Yankees in the Bronx when the Mariners open a three-game series against New York on Tuesday night.

Hernandez has made seven starts as a visitor against the Yankees, and he is 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA. The Mariners' ace is also 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA and two shutouts in his five starts at the new Yankee Stadium.

He'll be going up against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who has had his share of success against the Mariners, posting a 12-4 record and a 2.46 ERA in 20 career starts against them.

"That's a big matchup right there," Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner, said of his meeting with Sabathia, who won the award in '07. "I just have to go out there and match him and do whatever we have to do to win the game."

If his recent work is any indication, Hernandez shouldn't have much trouble putting together another quality start.

Hernandez has allowed only three earned runs in his last five outings, and he's emerged victorious in four of those outings.

His last time out, Hernandez found himself against Pirates ace A.J. Burnett and allowed only one earned run on six hits and a walk in eight frames. The right-hander struck out five.

"The first inning, they got me pretty good and I just left a couple of pitches down the middle," Hernandez said after allowing the lone run in the opening frame. "I knew it was going to be hard because Burnett was nasty. And after the first, I just had to get my command back and try to throw strikes, and that's what I did through the course of the game.

"If you don't have your best stuff, you've got to go out there and fight and find different ways to get people out."

Sabathia also had a successful night last time out, but his outing was cut short by rain. The veteran left-hander allowed only one earned run on one hit and a walk through four innings against the Rockies, and he had retired 11 straight batters before Mother Nature intervened.

"CC's obviously been good for a long time," Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said after the game. "He throws strikes. He doesn't have the stuff he once did. He would probably say that, velocity-wise. He's pitching a little bit different, from what I saw, but he's still very effective, and he still finds a way to get it done."

"I'm just disappointed I didn't get any more at-bats," Sabathia said after striking out twice in his only two trips to the plate.

Yankees: Boesch optioned; Granderson looming
In the 40 minutes allotted between games of Monday's doubleheader against the Indians, the Yankees optioned outfielder Brennan Boesch to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. New York promoted pitcher Brett Marshall to take the outfielder's place, providing an extra arm out of the bullpen for the second game of the twin bill.

Boesch's demotion, however, also opens the door for Curtis Granderson's return. On Sunday, Granderson completed his fourth rehab game with Triple-A, where he was hitting .412 (7-for-17) with one home run and three RBIs entering play on Monday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said prior to Monday's doubleheader that he plans to have a conversation soon with Granderson about a potential return date.

"He has to feel like he's ready to play," Girardi said. "You don't want a player coming up here and saying, 'I just don't feel good at the plate' or 'I just don't feel good. My legs don't feel good.' We don't want that."

Mariners: Wedge not concerned with Ryan's struggles
• Brendan Ryan continues to be mired in a slump at the plate.

The veteran infielder's batting average sank to .122 on Sunday after he went 0-for-4. He hasn't reached base in six games and has only three hits in his last 18 games.

While Ryan has been sharing playing time with Robert Andino for the past few weeks, manager Eric Wedge said there's no reason to think he's nearing the end of his rope with the 31-year-old defensive wizard.

"I just think once we get everybody else going, he'll come along and be better himself," Wedge said. "The difference he makes is real. But he's not the difference between us being a good offensive club and not. That's where people put their focus in the wrong direction.

"He's not going to be the difference maker [offensively]. The difference maker is everybody else. He needs to be a contributor. But where he's a difference maker is defensively. And when you have players who are difference makers, you keep them, whether it be offensively, defensively, on the basepaths, starting pitching, bullpen -- whatever it may be. He's a difference maker defensively. We need everybody else offensively to do their job and for him to be a contributor."

• Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have combined to allow only four runs in their last four starts. This continues a season trend that has Mariners hurlers ranked first and third in the AL, respectively, in ERA. Hernandez is 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA, and Iwakuma is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA. This season, they have combined to go 9-3 with a 1.63 ERA in 16 starts.

Worth noting
• The Yankees were 6-3 against the Mariners last season, winning all three series. Two of those losses were to Hernandez, including a two-hit shutout on Aug. 4 at Yankee Stadium.

• Sabathia is 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA in six starts against the Mariners since the start of the 2010 season.

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