Seattle’s Hernandez Ks 13 in 2-0 win over Oakland
SEATTLE – Felix Hernandez threw eight innings against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night in a 2-0 victory. He may have won the game back in the first inning.
Hernandez (8-9), the Seattle Mariners’ ace right-hander, worked out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the first. He struck out Jack Cust then induced Kevin Kouzmanoff to hit a two-hop ground ball to second baseman Chone Figgins, who turned it into a routine double play.
“Looking back, that was probably the ball game right there, bases loaded, nobody out and he was able to get out of it,” said Mariners interim manager Daren Brown, now 2-0 since taking over the job from Don Wakamatsu on Monday.
Hernandez, who struck out a career-high 13 batters, added, “I was just trying to make two pitches. I threw a strikeout then I said, ‘Throw your sinker for a double play.’ That’s what I did, ground ball, second base. … after that it’s going to be hard to get to me in the next innings.”
Hernandez settled in after his first-inning blip. Over a span of 25 batters, he retired 22, 12 on strikeouts. The only hitters to reach were on two singles and a walk.
He scattered five hits over his eight innings.
David Aardsma took over in the ninth, picking up his 22nd save in 26 opportunities.
“He really pumped up the volume, his velocity went up, everything went up right there, it really did,” A’s manager Bob Geren said of the first inning. “The first pitch he threw was like 97 and he got a little extra boost of adrenaline or something right there. He made some really good pitches the rest of the game.”
Runs support has been a problem for Hernandez this season, as his teammates have provided just nine total runs in his nine losses. A’s starter Brett Anderson (3-3) kept the Mariners in check through five innings.
Anderson also had some first-inning trouble. He walked Jose Lopez with two outs then Franklin Gutierrez doubled into the left-field corner. Lopez, who is not fast, was held up at third. Casey Kotchman ended it with a right-side groundout.
Anderson went on to retire 13 of 14 batters, allowing only a two-out single in the fourth. He gave up two hits through five innings but couldn’t get through the sixth unharmed.
“He went as deep as he could and did a heck of a job,” Geren said. “It is just their guy was equal or better.”
The Mariners finally scored a run in the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki led off with his major league-leading 38th infield hit. He was sacrificed to second. After a groundout and an intentional walk to Gutierrez, Kotchman singled through the right side to score Suzuki.
“I was like, ‘Wow, we get a run.’ I’m just kidding,” Hernandez joked. “I was saying, ‘Now you have to keep the lead.’ That’s what I do.”
Mark Ellis, struck out three times by Hernandez, said, “After that first inning tonight, he was real focused. His stuff was as sharp as I’ve ever seen it.”
Ellis said Hernandez has always had velocity “but his other stuff was really good tonight, four really good pitches and we were just overmatched quite honestly.”
Seattle added a run in the eighth off Craig Breslow when Gutierrez lofted an RBI single to shallow left.
Hernandez threw 110 pitches but the Mariners have been careful not to overwork him. Aardsma was summoned to finish it.
“You are a lot more comfortable with your pitches (with a two-run lead),” Aardsma said. “With a one-run lead, you have to make your pitches. You can’t let a guy get on base then that brings up a guy like Kouzmanoff, an easy gap (hitting) guy. With a two-run lead, you can attack hitters.”
It was the sixth shutout for the Mariners and the fifth time the A’s have been shut out.
The A’s technically halted a notorious streak. Entering the game, they were 0 for 35 with runners in scoring position. The club record is 0 for 41 set in 1980. Kurt Suzuki ended it in the first inning when he singled with runners on first and second. However, they didn’t score on it. The runners advanced only one base and Hernandez kept them there.
NOTES: Daren Brown got a call from his father, Paul Brown, after the Mariners’ 3-1 victory Monday in his first game as manager. His father had played parts of four seasons with the Phillies (1961-63, 1968) and was 0-8 as a pitcher. He told his son he was proud that he was a winner first time out. “That was special to me for him to say that,” Daren Brown said. “He’s a part (of my life). He grew up around the game. It’s real important to me.” … A’s RHP Ben Sheets had more extension surgery Monday on his right elbow than expected. Texas Rangers team surgeon Dr. Keith Meister repaired the flexor tendon, pronator tendon and the ulnar collateral ligament. Sheets had been told that his UCL would not be involved.
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