Following the second rainout of the season Friday night, on a non-rainy night by the way, the Athletics pushed back starter Dan Straily to pair up with Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez Saturday afternoon.
Even with the extra rest, the A’s were still no match for King Felix, losing 3-1 and dropping their record to 2-3 on the season.
Early on, it appeared the extra rest did Straily some good as he was dominant through the first four innings, striking out seven Mariners’ batters, and retiring 12 of the first 14 batters he faced. Paired with Hernandez, a perennial Cy Young candidate, the game had all the makings of a pitchers’ duel.
Hernandez matched zero’s with Straily for the first four innings. The only blemish on Hernandez’s line through four innings being a Jed Lowrie single up the middle to break up his bid for a perfect game. Immediately following Lowrie’s single, Brandon Moss skied a pitch into shallow center field that should have ended the inning. The ball was lost in the sun though and by the time it landed between three Mariners, Lowrie had moved up to third and Moss stood on second with a gift double.
The threat ended there though as Hernandez got Yoenis Cespedes to strike out swinging. It would turn out, the pitching duel also ended there as Straily had trouble keeping the ball in the park the following inning.
Kyle Seager lead off the top of the fifth inning with a double and came around to score on Dustin Ackley’s first homer of the season into the right field bleachers. Two batters later Abraham Almonte also sent a pitch flying into the right field seats to push the Mariners lead to 3-0.
Straily’s final line for the night was three runs allowed on six hits, one walk and seven strikeouts through six innings. Drew Pomeranz pitched a perfect inning in relief of Straily, and Jim Johnson came in to work the eighth inning.
Following a pair of rough outings that saw Johnson fall to 0-2 on the season and record his first blown save, he pitched a mostly uneventful eighth inning for the A’s, allowing just one hit and striking out two batters in the scoreless frame. He exited the mound to cheers from the fans for the first time in an A’s uniform.
Evan Scriber worked a quick 1-2-3 top of the ninth in relief of Johnson to round out the A’s pitching line for the day.
Oakland’s lineup had an opportunity to do some damage in the bottom of the sixth inning when Coco Crisp tripled down the first base line with one out. Hernandez answered back by striking out Donaldson and getting Lowrie to pop out to the shortstop, Brad Miller to end the inning and leave Crisp stranded at third.
Lowrie broke up the bid for a shutout with a leadoff homer in the bottom half of the ninth inning. Moss followed Lowrie’s blast with a single up the middle, giving the A’s and their fans some life. With Cespedes batting, a pitch got past Mike Zunino and allowed Moss to move into scoring position. For a brief moment it appeared that Cespedes had tied the game with a deep fly ball to left field on Hernandez’s 100th pitch of the day. The ball sailed just foul though and Cespedes flied out to right on the next pitch. With one out and Moss on second, Hernandez’s night was determined over by the Mariners and Fernando Rodney was brought in to try to record the save.
Rodney struck out Jaso for the second out of the ninth inning before going to work on Josh Reddick. After falling behind 0-2, Reddick worked the count back to 2-2, but struck out to end the game.
Straily was strapped with his first loss of the season and Hernandez improved to 2-0, Rodney earned his first save of the season.
The A’s and Mariners will conclude their series, and the A’s opening homestand, tomorrow with a 1:05PM game. Sonny Gray will pitch for the A’s against Erasmo Ramirez for Seattle.