Felix Hernandez will make his second start of the season Saturday and if it's anything like his first, he'll be well on his way toward his 100th career win.
Don't jinx him though.
Hernandez, who owns a 99-76 mark in 239 career starts, cut off a reporter trying to ask him about it earlier this week saying something else could also be in store for him if he gets the milestone win.
"Shh, shh, shh, don't say it," he said with a smile. "I mean, it's going to be special. It'll be good to finally get to 100 . I'll try my hardest. These guys want it so bad because they're going to do something to me."
A win Saturday would clinch his club's first series win after an 8-7 win in extras over the White Sox on Friday night. It could also make a good birthday gift for the Mariners ace as he approaches his 27th birthday on Monday.
King Felix did his job on Opening Day, allowing just three hits and a walk through 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Oakland. Seattle was able to pull out the win, but history is still on Chicago's side going into Saturday's matchup. The White Sox lit up Hernandez in his last appearance at U.S. Cellular field for four runs on three homers and four walks. Hernandez owns an uncharacteristic 1-4 mark and a 4.75 ERA on Chicago's South Side in seven career starts.
Chicago will take any edge they can get while working starter Dylan Axelrod back from the 15-day DL. The 27 year-old right hander performed well through Spring Training, earning the early start after starting two games and posting a 2-2 record with a 3.66 ERA. Axelrod also got some experience out of the bullpen, grabbing a save against the Cubs on his way toward 15 Cactus League strikeouts.
It was a huge step in gaining back his velocity and command after cutting his promising sophomore season short last year in August after 51 innings. Axelrod ended his season last year 2-2 with a 5.47 ERA as a starter and relief pitcher for the White Sox. It was a cold winter for the California native, but he said he learned a lot about perseverance.
"There's a dream I had when I was a kid and it was a vision and I just went for it," Axelrod said. "I try not to let people tell me who I am and label me, so I just figured go for it and just play my heart out. Play as long as I can and here I am.
"I know [Hernandez] is there. I'm just pitching against the lineup so I feel like if I go out and put up a good effort, we are going to have a chance to win."
Mariners: King's ransom
• One hundred wins won't be the only record Hernandez will try for on Saturday. The right-hander enters the contest game just five strikeouts shy of 1,500 for his career. He fanned eight A's in his first start.
• Michael Morse and Franklin Gutierrez are leading Seattle's offense with seven hits and six RBIs apiece. Morse homered four times in the first four games and is tied for the Major League lead with Baltimore's Chris Davis. He finished the extra-inning win 1-for-5.
White Sox: Keeping it simple
Axelrod made it clear he'll try not to get ahead of himself in his first start. He said he'll rely a lot on the guys behind him as he goes for his first win of the season.
"Yeah, don't walk anybody. Get ahead. That's what I do. I'm probably not going to strike out a ton of guys," Axelrod said. "Just make them put it in play and let the defense work, pound the zone. I feel confident that if I do that, I'll have a strong outing."
Mariners skipper Eric Wedge said veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach would start Saturday's game. It will be his second start of the season, to break up Jesus Montero's workload with the day game following Friday night's contest.
Gary Cotton is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.