Felix Hernandez controls A’s as Mariners pick up win
Felix Hernandez has never felt better at the beginning of a season. That certainly bodes well for the former Cy Young Award winner.
Hernandez took a shutout into the ninth inning, Dustin Ackley and Abraham Almonte hit home runs and the Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 Saturday.
Hernandez (2-0) retired the first 11 batters on the way to his 16th career win over the Athletics, his most against any team. Hernandez walked one and struck out eight while allowing a run on six hits over 8 1/3 innings.
"My pitches were looking good all day long," Hernandez said. "I could throw them all for strikes. I felt strong and my pitches were there. Physically I feel great and I have all my pitches."
Fernando Rodney, who struggled during spring training, got the final two outs to record his first save with the Mariners. Robinson Cano had two hits.
"I’m just working on locating my fastball in spring," Rodney said. "It was real good today; it’s the season."
Dan Straily (0-1) allowed three runs on six hits over his six innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
"It was disappointing," Straily said. "A two-seamer comes back over the plate and I yanked one. I did a good job of executing the game plan minus those two pitches."
Straily carried a shutout into the fifth inning before Ackley’s towering two-run shot gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead. With two outs, Almonte drove Straily’s 1-0 pitch even deeper into the right field bleachers.
"After seeing him a couple of times you get used to what he’s got and can throw out better at bats," Ackley said. "There was a runner on third, maybe he’s thinking about him, and gives me a pitch to hit."
The way Hernandez was pitching, the run support was more than enough.
"I’d say for seven innings that might be the best we’ve seen him," A’s manager Bob Melvin said. "It seemed like his fastball had a little extra hop and he mixed in his breaking stuff well."
Jed Lowrie, who hit a home run leading off the ninth, broke up Hernandez’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the fourth.
Brandon Moss, who had two hits, followed with a bloop double but Hernandez struck out Yoenis Cespedes on three pitches.
"I saw the same guy I saw last week," Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He’s pretty good. I’ll take that every time."
Coco Crisp tripled with one out in the sixth but was stranded there when Josh Donaldson struck out and Lowrie popped out.
Hernandez improved his record to 67-3 when going at least seven innings and allowing three or fewer runs.
"When we can score first it puts pressure on the other team and makes Felix even better," Ackley said. "If we got one run, I thought it would be enough the way he was pitching."
The Mariners pitching staff extended their club record season-opening streak to allowing three or fewer runs to five.
Hernandez, who turns 28 on Tuesday, ranks fourth on the all-time list with 1,722 strikeouts before the age of 28 behind Sam McDowell, Bert Blyleven and Walter Johnson.