Athletics-Mariners Preview

Felix Hernandez hasn’t been the same since his opening day

victory over the Oakland Athletics.

The Seattle Mariners ace will try to get back on track when he

faces the visiting A’s in the opener of a four-game set Thursday


Hernandez started 2011 on the right foot with a five-hitter in a

6-2 win over Oakland (9-9) on April 1. He’s 3-0 with a 3.19 ERA in

six starts against the Athletics since the start of 2009.

Since opening day, Hernandez is 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA in three

outings while progressively pitching fewer innings. He gave up five

runs – two earned – over five innings in a 7-0 loss at Kansas City

on Saturday.

The right-hander has received a total of three runs of support

in those starts, none in the last two.

“It will be fine,” Hernandez said. “It’s just the beginning of

the season. We’re trying hard. We’re trying to do the best we can.

We’ve just got to keep working hard, just keep trying to hit and

pitch. That’s all we can do.”

Hernandez (1-2, 4.33) has enjoyed success against Oakland

regulars Kevin Kouzmanoff (3 for 22) and Coco Crisp (5 for 21),

while David DeJesus (.346) and Kurt Suzuki (.316) have fared well

against him.

The Athletics have won five straight at Safeco Field. They lost

two of three at home in that opening series, as Crisp was the

hitting star by going 5 for 12. Kouzmanoff was 2 for 10, Hideki

Matsui 2 for 11 and DeJesus 1 for 12.

The teams combined for three homers in that series and continue

to struggle in that department. Oakland has the second-fewest in

the AL with eight and Seattle (6-13) the third-fewest with 10.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge replaced slumping Milton Bradley in

left field Wednesday with Carlos Peguero, who made his first major

league start and went 0 for 4 in a 3-2 home loss to Detroit.

Bradley is 8 for 40 with 13 strikeouts in his last 11 games.

The Mariners are without first baseman Justin Smoak, who is on

bereavement leave. Wedge has indicated that Adam Kennedy will

likely play against right-handers, and his club will face one

Thursday in Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 2.45).

McCarthy allowed six hits over 6 2-3 scoreless innings in an

8-4, 10-inning loss to the Tigers on Friday.

He’s 1-1 with a 6.93 ERA in five starts versus Seattle. Ichiro

Suzuki is 4 for 15 against him and Chone Figgins 5 for 10.

Suzuki was 5 for 12 in the season-opening series. He’s batting

.358 during a 16-game hitting streak against the A’s, who own the

majors’ best ERA at 2.58.

Both teams struggled with runners in scoring position Wednesday.

The Mariners went 1 for 9 to drop to an AL-worst .198 while Oakland

went 3 for 15 in its 5-3 loss to Boston.

“We didn’t take advantage of some situations when we had them,”

manager Bob Geren said. “We had some of our better hits up in

certain situations and didn’t necessarily come through.”