A's clear big hurdle in besting Felix
OAKLAND -- Before the Athletics' 2-0 victory over the Mariners on Saturday, Seattle's Felix Hernandez hadn't lost in Oakland since Sept. 19, 2008. His 13 straight starts at the Coliseum without a loss tied for the longest such streak by an opposing pitcher.
But on Saturday, that streak came to an end. He was outdueled by Kendall Graveman, and although Hernandez was solid, he wasn't dominant.
"Now he's 0-1 in the last one start he's had here," A's manager Bob Melvin quipped.
"For us to beat him in our building, where he's had so much success, is huge for our team," Stephen Vogt said.
Three batters into the game, the A's had more runs than Hernandez did outs. Billy Burns singled and stole second, Vogt walked and Ben Zobrist singled home Burns.
In the second inning, the A's loaded the bases with no outs and appeared destined to blow open the game.
That's when everything changed for Hernandez.
"His stuff is so nasty," said Vogt, who boasts a .600 average against Hernandez. "When he got that bases-loaded, nobody-out situation, he got better. That's the mark of a true ace, a true dominant pitcher. There was no way we were scoring runs right there. The tide just turned."
Hernandez recorded three straight outs, and the A's stranded five runners through two innings.
The A's had a chance to give Graveman even more of a cushion but could not do so.
"You noticed that?" Melvin said. "Very [tough]. When you have a guy like him in particular on the ropes, usually early in games is when you have the best chance to put a crooked number up against him. It's important that you come through. That can be demoralizing."
Hernandez worked his way through the third inning through the sixth, then the A's tacked on a run in the seventh with the same mix of players they used in the first.
Burns -- who now has the most multihit games among Major League rookies, with 24 -- singled, Vogt singled and Zobrist hit a sacrifice fly.
The A's didn't rough up Hernandez. They didn't bounce him early. They didn't explode for a big inning.
But they did enough to get that elusive home win against him.
"Any time you beat Felix in any building, anywhere, it's huge," Vogt said. "He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's in the talk to be the best pitcher in baseball, in my opinion."