SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez wanted to make one last start this season, looking to end a frustrating year on a good note and go out with a finish fit for a King. But the playoff-bound A's had different ideas as they rolled to a 9-3 victory in Wednesday's series finale
SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez wanted to make one last start this season, looking to end a frustrating year on a good note and go out with a finish fit for a King. But the playoff-bound A's had different ideas as they rolled to a 9-3 victory in Wednesday's series finale at Safeco Field.
Hernandez, pitching for the first time in 18 days after resting a sore right hamstring, gave up just three hits in four-plus innings. But two of those were solo homers and he allowed five runs (four earned) with two walks and a hit batter in a 74-pitch outing.
The six-time All-Star and former American League Cy Young Award winner finished his season at 8-14 with a career-high 5.55 ERA in 29 games, including one relief outing. What the future holds remains to be seen as the 32-year-old still has one more year at $27 million on his contract, but his rotation spot no longer can be a certainty.
"I don't want to think about this year," Hernandez said. "I just have to go into the offseason and relax and prepare myself for next year and see where we go from there."
Hernandez didn't win a game after June 30, going 0-8 with a 6.34 ERA in his final 11 outings. The Mariners were 1-10 in those contests, which didn't help curb a second-half slump that has dropped their record to 86-72 with four games remaining against the Rangers.
The veteran says he'll talk to Carsten Sabathia and some other people about possible adjustments in his approach. He said his arm feels much healthier this year and he takes positives from pitching his most innings since 2016.
Wiping the slate clean and starting fresh won't be easy, but he's ready to put this season in the rearview mirror.
"The offseason will be better," he said. "I'll be with my family and that's going to help a little bit, then I just have to go out there and work and do my thing, what I have to do. And next year, if I'm here, I'll do my job."
Manager Scott Servais said Hernandez experimented with different approaches with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. this year, but will need to keep working this winter.
"Felix certainly is looking at making some adjustments in what he's done," Servais said. "But he's tried a number of different things. He does have another year on his contract and I know he wants to finish strong. It'll be up to him."
The Mariners did go 10-9 against the A's to win their sixth straight season series against the division rivals, but that is small consolation against a club that zipped past them in the second half and is 96-63, headed for a Wild Card playoff game against the Yankees next week.
Ben Gamel laced a two-run double in the second to pull Seattle into a 2-2 tie after Hernandez allowed homers to Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder, but the A's erupted for six runs in the fifth in knocking out Hernandez and then putting the game away with Matt Olson's grand slam off Chasen Bradford.
Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to eight games with a fifth-inning single in a 1-for-4 night and is batting .485 (16-for-33) in that stretch.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hernandez struck out the side in the third, whiffing Semien on an 84-mph cutter and then getting Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis looking at 90-91 mph fastballs. His four strikeouts on the night moved Hernandez past Mark Langston into 37th on MLB's all-time list with 2,467. Hall of Famer Jack Morris is next up on the list with 2,478.
The first inning proved problematic for Hernandez all season. Semien's one-out homer was the 11th allowed by the Mariners right-hander in the first inning out of the career-high 27 home runs he allowed overall. That ties Colorado's Tyler Anderson for the most first-inning HRs given up in MLB this season. Hernandez's first-inning ERA was 8.16 (26 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings) and opposing batters hit .308 in that frame.
"I don't know," Hernandez said. "[Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.] and I worked on stuff in the bullpen. But the first inning was a little tough. I think I gave up more runs in the first inning than anybody in the league. I probably need more focus or try something different. I don't know."
HE SAID IT
"We see why Oakland has had the season they've had. They can hit the long ball and certainly they did it against us tonight." -- Servais, after the A's smacked four home runs to put their season road total at 132, which is the fourth-most in MLB history with three games still to play
Marco Gonzales (13-9, 4.12 ERA) gets the start as the Mariners open their final series of the season Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT against Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado (4-5, 6.66). The 26-year-old southpaw held Texas to one hit and six scoreless innings on Saturday and now closes out his season in a rematch in Seattle. After a tough August, Gonzales is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three September starts.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.