Felix takes rare loss in Oakland
OAKLAND -- Even on a bad day, Felix Hernandez is good enough to keep his team in a game. But even the King needs a little help, and he didn't get any on Saturday as the Mariners fell to the A's, 2-0, to end his string of 13 straight games without a loss at the Coliseum.
Hernandez gave up a season-high 10 hits but wiggled out of trouble and limited the damage to two runs over seven innings. But two runs, on a day when the Mariners couldn't muster any offense against A's rookie Kendall Graveman, were too much to overcome.
"He battled all day," said skipper Lloyd McClendon. "I don't think he had his best stuff. I thought he limited the damage pretty good, for the most part, and gave us a chance to win a game."
Hernandez allowed six hits in the first two innings alone but trailed just 1-0 after escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second.
But he wasn't about to claim any moral victories, as his record fell to 10-5 with a 3.02 ERA.
"I'm not happy," Hernandez said. "We lost. Every time I go out there, I'm just trying to win."
He's done that a lot against the A's, the team he's beaten more than any other in his 11 years in the Majors. He is now 20-8 with a 2.63 ERA in 38 career starts against the A's and 10-3 with the same 2.63 mark in 21 outings in Oakland.
Did he know it was his first loss at the Coliseum in seven years?
"Really?" he shrugged. "It happens."
The A's were happy to have it happen, as they'd lost six of the first eight games to the Mariners this season and were coming off a 9-5 setback on Friday night.
"It feels good, especially here at home," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. "He's just handed it to us here at home. It's not like he pitched poorly today. He didn't have his best stuff and he wiggled out of a bunch of jams."
A's first baseman Stephen Vogt went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk and is now hitting .600 in his career against Hernandez, but he grounded out to second in his one chance to do damage, making the third out in the bases-loaded situation in the second.
"Any time you beat Felix in any building, anywhere, it's huge," Vogt said. "He's in the talk to be the best pitcher in baseball, in my opinion. His stuff is so nasty. 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 right there. The tide just turned."
But the Mariners couldn't make any waves of their own against Graveman, one day after belting four homers and hoping to have turned a corner offensively.
"You think you're getting ready to take off, and we come out and get shut out by a guy with decent but not overpowering stuff," said McClendon. "In that respect it's disappointing."
Hernandez did his best to give his team a chance, but on this day came up just a little short against his American League West rivals.
"I've seen them a lot," Hernandez said. "I know sometimes they come in patient, sometimes they're aggressive. There were a lot of ground-ball base hits that found the holes. It was just one of those days."