Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon isn't part of the 2014 American League All-Star team's coaching staff, though that did nothing to deter him Saturday from suggesting right-hander Felix Hernandez should start for the AL in the Midsummer Classic on July 15 at Target Field.
"If they want to win, they should start him," McClendon said a few hours before the Mariners were one-hit in a 5-0 loss to the Indians.
Hernandez (9-2, 2.24 ERA) has a resume that easily qualifies for consideration. The 28-year-old is 5-1 with a 1.48 ERA in his past eight starts -- a stretch where he's allowed 10 runs in 61 innings. He faces Cleveland in a rubber game at Safeco Field on Sunday, as the Mariners conclude a six-game homestand before departing for a six-game road trip through Houston and Chicago.
On Saturday, Hernandez didn't want to talk about his chances of starting the All-Star Game.
"I don't know who's going to start. I don't know," he said. "I would love to start. That's all I got to say."
Hernandez and Yankees rookie right-hander Masahiro Tanaka are the favorites to receive the honor. Tanaka pitched a complete game Saturday night against the Red Sox, but Boston first baseman Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth inning, sending Tanaka to his third loss of the season, as the Sox won, 2-1.
On Monday, Hernandez went seven innings against Boston, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six in a 12-3 win at Safeco Field.
"He's been fabulous," McClendon said of Hernandez. "What more can I say about him? He's been great."
Opposing Hernandez on Sunday is left-hander T.J. House, who is getting a spot start after right-hander Justin Masterson was scratched because of a sore right knee.
House will be officially recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Sunday morning, though he is already in Seattle with the Indians. The southpaw said he isn't daunted by what looks like a mismatch.
Is he blissfully ignorant?
"I actually didn't know until today. My brother-in-law was like, 'Oh, you're going to face King Felix.' I was laughing. He was like, 'That's so awesome.' I think they're so much more excited than I am," he said. "I just think it's cool to be able to do that."
House has split time this season between Triple-A and big leagues. He's 1-3 with a 3.20 ERA in nine starts for Columbus, and he's 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA in five starts (six appearances) with the Tribe but has been serviceable in spot starts.
"He's kept us in, I think, every game he's pitched so far against some pretty good teams," manager Terry Francona said. "He's got a predominantly left-handed-hitting team. It's set up good for him. Well, he's facing Felix. That's not so good."
Indians: Masterson set for Tuesday
Masterson has been bothered for most of this season by the right knee issue that kept him from starting Sunday, though he did successfully complete a bullpen session Saturday in Seattle. He'll have two extra days off between starts and is on target to pitch against the Dodgers on Tuesday.
"He looked healthy," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "It looked like he felt good and he was letting it good. His command was good, [velocity] was good, action on his pitches. It was all good. He looked liked he was using his lower half well -- probably better than I've seen in a while."
Mariners: Smoak, Hart, back soon?
Asked Saturday when designated hitter Corey Hart and first baseman Justin Smoak would rejoin the club, manager Lloyd McClendon was non-committal.
Hart and Smoak are both rehabbing with Triple-A Tacoma and eligible to come off the disabled list.
"They're getting better. They're both getting anxious. They're both texting me," McClendon said.
Some assume that they'll rejoin the team when the Mariners begin a three-game set next week in Houston. McClendon wasn't budging.
"It's a short flight," he acknowledged. "I don't have those answers right now."
• Francona indicated that utility man Mike Aviles would be in the starting lineup Sunday against Hernandez. In his career against the Mariners ace, Aviles has hit .412 (7-for-17) with two doubles. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall is also expected to return to the lineup after getting a night off Saturday.
• Mariners catcher Mike Zunino leads AL catchers with 11 home runs.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.