Updated: June 1, 2008, 5:12 PM ET

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This time around, Felix Hernandez wasn't left in long enough to spoil a fine pitching effort.

Hernandez starting to get in the groove
This is where there is supposed to be some witty opening line playing on Felix Hernandez's "King" moniker.

Something like "The King ascended to his throne again," or perhaps "The Tigers' offense bowed down before the King."

Instead, let's keep this simple and point out that for the second start in a row, Hernandez was thoroughly in control through seven dominant innings, only this time he wasn't left in the game an inning too long to ruin his outing.

Hernandez threw seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball to beat the Tigers 5-0, striking out seven. With Brandon Morrow and J.J. Putz ready to shut the door, Hernandez was pulled after 87 pitches, giving the pitcher who had thrown 110 or more pitches in half of his starts this season a little breather, especially since he is still fighting a tight calf muscle that cramped up as his outing progressed.

In his previous outing against the Red Sox, he also allowed just two hits through seven innings, but he gave up five hits and a walk in the eighth inning, including two infield singles. He wound up being charged with four runs in that inning, but that scenario was not going to repeat in this game. Hernandez had gotten just nine total runs of support in his previous seven outings, and Saturday's win was his first since April 16.

The real positive in this start was that, for the first time this season, Hernandez didn't walk a batter, which is significant considering that Hernandez's walk rate is up more than a batter per nine innings this season. Hopefully that trend continues en route to Hernandez finally taking that next step to becoming the ace pitcher he has the ability to be.

There is no doubt about his stuff; it's as good as it's ever been this season. Now it's about finding more consistency from start-to-start.

Past editions: 5/31: Royals have value | 5/30: Litsch, Campillo | 5/29: Believe in Bedard?

Box Score Bits
San Diego's Josh Banks threw a complete game, and he has allowed just one run in a start and two long relief appearances this season. However, don't be fooled. He was released by the Blue Jays after getting ripped at Triple-A two seasons in a row and was getting hammered a bit at Triple-A for the Padres in limited work. The only reason he was starting is because the Padres are desperately low on bodies. Stay away. … Garrett Atkins got a day off Saturday to help him snap out of a 1-for-19 skid since returning from neck and back problems. He did pinch hit later in the game and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. He should be back in the lineup Sunday, and he'll eventually work his way out of it. … Carlos Marmol picked up save No. 3 on the season, as the Cubs didn't want to use Kerry Wood for three days in a row. … David Ortiz sprained his left wrist fouling off a pitch in the ninth inning, and he's doubtful for Sunday. We'll have to see beyond that. … Ben Sheets has a 34:2 strikeout-walk ratio in six May starts and he is really getting into a groove over his last three outings. … Josh Hamilton: Homer, three RBIs. In other news, the sun set last night. … Brandon Boggs has seven RBIs in his last four starts as he tries to hold off Marlon Byrd and earn regular time in the Rangers' outfield. … Rafael Soriano had his first save chance since returning to the active roster, and he promptly blew it. John Smoltz is expected back as soon as Monday, so that's not a good sign for Soriano. … Jay Bruce had three more hits. There are no signs yet of his hot start cooling off. … With Pedro Martinez returning, Mike Pelfrey likely saved his rotation spot with a decent outing Saturday. Claudio Vargas likely will be bumped from the rotation. … Chad Billingsley posted a 1.89 ERA in six May starts after throwing seven shutout innings Saturday. He continues to rebound from a slow start. … Luis Castillo was scratched from Saturday's game because of a sore left leg he suffered Friday, but he wound up making a pinch-hit appearance. It's still sore, but he hopes to start on Sunday. … Even with Juan Uribe back, Alexei Ramirez is still starting at second base for the White Sox, going 1-for-3 Saturday. Ramirez is hitting close to .300 since Uribe got hurt. … Hanley Ramirez was right back in the Marlins' lineup after bruising his thumb Friday. … Cody Ross hit his 10th homer in just 98 at-bats this season, following up 12 homers in 173 at-bats in 2007. He could start seeing more and more playing time. … Scott Kazmir won his fifth straight start and is pitching as well as any starter in the big leagues right now. He hasn't allowed a homer in any of his six outings this season. … So much for running out and grabbing Dan Wheeler or Al Reyes for Rays saves. A righty-lefty-righty matchup in the ninth inning resulted in three different pitchers working, with Grant Balfour getting the last batter for the save after Wheeler put two batters on. This situation is still up in the air going forward, but Wheeler is still the most likely to get chances. … Kyle Davies ended the Royals' 12-game losing streak by allowing one run in five innings, but he walked three batters and is capable of issuing a lot of free passes. He is therefore not recommended for future starts. … Brandon Webb and Jason Bergmann had a complete-game duel that lasted just an hour and 52 minutes, with Webb's shutout winning out. Bergmann gave up four solo homers and took the loss despite the D-backs never having a runner in scoring position. Neither pitcher walked a batter. Mark Reynolds had two of those homers, as Chad Tracy started at first base for the injured Conor Jackson (strained quad). Reynolds will need to keep hitting to continue starting now that Tracy has returned. Jackson had an MRI, but is not expected to hit the disabled list, and the team is hopeful he will only have to miss a couple more days.



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Standing Out

Edinson Volquez, Reds
We keep calling for a cooldown for this rookie, but it sure hasn't happened yet. Volquez fired six strong innings Saturday to improve his record to 7-2 and his ERA dropped to an amazing 1.46.

Paul Konerko, White Sox
Another game, another oh-fer from Konerko. The normally reliable first baseman has gotten off to another slow start, entering June with an ugly .206 batting average.
News and Notes

Aaron Hill missed his second straight game Saturday because of a concussion, and he's not expected back in the lineup until Tuesday, at the earliest. … Ryan Zimmerman took batting practice Saturday for the first time since injuring his shoulder, and he could be back in the lineup next week. According to The Washington Post, he still has occasional sharp pain when he swings. … Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney are both about to begin rehab assignments for the Tigers, and could be back with the club sometime in June. Zumaya has topped out at 97 mph and Rodney at 93 mph in extended spring training work. … J.D. Drew missed his second straight game with vertigo, and is day-to-day. … Jack Wilson was out of the lineup Saturday because of a sore calf, but he should be starting again Sunday. … Ryan Church hopes to return to the lineup Sunday after recovering from his second concussion, but that is not set in stone. … The Tigers plan to rotate Armando Galarraga and Dontrelle Willis in their rotation, with the two pitchers switching the starting/relief roles every five days as they try and get Willis going again. … Jayson Werth, suffering from a strained oblique, should be activated next weekend. … Jason Jennings' season is finished after he underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his arm.

They Wrote It

"I thought, 'Hey I'm moving around pretty well in the box.' Then I realized [the pitcher] was moving, not me."

-- Ryan Church, talking about his second concussion this season in Peter Gammons' latest blog Full Story

"It's been a strange five years for Shannon Stewart. Five seasons ago he was deemed the fourth-most valuable player in the American League by the MVP voters (don't get me started). Four seasons ago he spent a good chunk of the season on the DL. Three seasons ago he was worse than league-average for the first time in his career. Two seasons ago he missed most of the season and struggled again when he did play. Last season he did better, but still not anything like what a corner outfielder is supposed to do in the major leagues. And this year he seems to have bottomed out. It took him 148 at-bats to hit his first homer of 2008. It was the 115th of his career and probably will be one of his last."

-- Rob Neyer Full Story


• The Padres placed Shawn Estes on the disabled list because of a broken thumb on his pitching hand. That actually probably does some fantasy owners a favor, as they don't have to look at what is currently a decent ERA and ratio and be tempted into actually starting him. The fact is those numbers have only one way to go, and that's up.

• The Twins activated Nick Punto from the disabled list, and it appears he will take over a good portion of the shortstop duties from Brendan Harris, meaning Alexi Casilla's playing time should be reasonably safe at second base for the time being.

• The Red Sox activated Clay Buchholz from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A. His last rehab start was not great, and the team wants him to get back into form before considering him for the big-league rotation again.

On The Farm

Francisco Liriano had his best outing of the season, giving up just one run on three hits over 6 1/3 innings at Triple-A on Saturday night. He walked one and struck out seven, and is on track to hopefully have fantasy impact by the second half.

J.A. Happ, who is on the cusp of the Phillies' rotation, didn't do himself any favors with his worst start of the season for the team's Triple-A club Saturday night. Happ gave up a whopping 13 hits and eight runs in five innings of work, with no walks and two strikeouts, as he was unable to show command within the strike zone.

• Red Sox outfielder Brandon Moss continues to make his case for getting back to the big leagues, cracking three solo homers Saturday night at Triple-A as part of his 4-for-5 night. Moss is hitting .317 in 32 games since being sent down.