When Hernandez was about to throw the first perfect game in Mariners history, Maurer and the Generals gathered to witness history.
"We were all out there shagging BP in the outfield when they put it on the Jumbotron," said the 22-year-old right-hander. "Moises ran over, and he was just going crazy. We all started jumping around too. It was pretty fun."
Thursday was Maurer's chance to dominate on the hill, albeit in not quite as flashy-but-impressive fashion.
The Mariners' No. 14 prospect allowed three hits in six shutout innings to lead Jackson past Mississippi, 5-2, at Pringles Park. It wasn't a mirror image of Hernandez's perfecto, but Maurer (9-2) noted that he does take inspiration from his organization's ace -- not only in his latest start, but almost every time he takes the hill.
"He was up in the Majors when he was 19," he said. "None of us here are really all that far from that, so we're all really trying to follow in his footsteps. He's something we can all sort of aspire to here."
The Florida native was dealing in the opening innings. He needed only 21 pitches to face the minimum nine batters through the game's first three frames. What's more, he was only using two offerings from his arsenal at the time.
"The fastball was working really well on both sides of the plate, I thought," Maurer said. "Because of that and the changeup, I didn't even throw a breaking pitch until the fourth inning."
The Braves became more patient in the second half of the right-hander's outing, but he continued to put zeros on the board. They loaded the bases on Philip Gosselin's single and a pair of walks in the fifth, but Maurer escaped by inducing Jason Christian and Todd Cunningham to fly out.
The six shutout innings came as a relief to Maurer, who had allowed four earned runs over 10 1/3 innings in his last two starts. Normally, those stats wouldn't seem too bad. But for the right-hander who ranks third in the Southern League with a 3.20 ERA, they were tough to swallow, especially after watching perfection a day earlier.
"I definitely picked it up today," the 2008 23rd-round pick said. "It was all about just having fun. I was smacking my gum out there on the mound, just trying to do whatever I needed to make it a fun game again. ... I guess I was getting stressed out about the numbers. I have finished well in my career, so I was worried about that happening again. But today was all about being free and fun."
Maurer will have a few more shots to enjoy the game. At 137 2/3 innings, he has already well surpassed his previous career high of 79 1/3. That will lead to limited pitch counts -- he threw only 69 pitches (44 strikes) Thursday -- but will keep him going into the Southern League playoffs. The Generals already punched a postseason ticket with their first-half division crown.
And that of course means more chances to be like the "King."
"They'll let me finish it out," Maurer said. "I'll be limited like I was tonight, but they just want me to take it easy and finish strong. Once we get to the playoffs, I'll have free rein again."
The right-hander had a new batterymate in Mariners' first-round pick, Mike Zunino, on Thursday. The pair worked through some early kinks, as most pitchers and catchers do in their first time together, just in time for the gem.
But perhaps what most impressed Maurer about his new teammate may have been his bat. Zunino, playing in his third game for the Generals, was 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and an RBI.
"You can never be mad when your catcher hits," Maurer said.