King Felix Hernandez Reigns in the Bronx

A second straight dominant start means a second straight Yankees loss

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    If a Yankees fan had a little bit of perspective, he could look at what's happened over the last two nights at Yankee Stadium and feel thankful.

    Cliff Lee went the distance to beat the Yanks on Tuesday and Felix Hernandez topped his performance with a two-hit shutout masterpiece on Wednesday, a pair of outings that will actually cause Mariners supporters more pain than pleasure. They were expecting to see that one-two punch take them all the way into October but it is July 1st and they are 14 games out of first place. These two midseason games will go down as the high water mark of the season, especially when they are watching Lee pitch for a better team in a playoff tournament the Mariners believed they'd be a part of when the season began. 

    For the Yankees, things are very different. These two nights just might represent the worst of things, two nights when nothing went right against two of the best pitchers that this wonderful game of ours has to offer. There will be more nights when the Yankees pound opposing hurlers and more nights when Yankee pitchers create their own gems on the mound than there will be nights when the Yankees look like a bad team.

    For that a fan should always be thankful for what they have, but, as we all know, perspective isn't always easy to come by when you're talking about the Yankees. Case in point: Tim Smith's column in Thursday's Daily News about how Hernandez is an ace at 24 without the kind of babying the Yankees feel it is necessary to apply to Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. 

    Smith's argument boils down to the fact that Hernandez is 24 and doesn't have the cap on his innings that Hughes, also 24, has this season. It's a nice story, particularly because it ignores the fact that the Mariners did skip Hernandez starts in his first full major league season and that Hernandez missed time in his second full season with elbow problems. It ignores the fact that Hernandez was signed at 16, giving the Mariners a two-year head start on preparing him for the major leagues, and it ignores the fact that injuries, though not arm injuries, have contributed to Hughes being 24 at this point in his development instead of being 22. 

    More than anything else, it ignores the fact that Hernandez just might be a better pitcher than Hughes. It's hard for Yankee watchers to swallow but superstars do sometimes blossom outside of the Bronx and sometimes there's no amount of coaching or handling that can guarantee you wind up with someone as preternaturally talented as King Felix.

    Guess what, life is pretty good even without someone like that fronting the Yankee rotation. Be happy for that and get the win back on Thursday afternoon.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.