OAKLAND, Calif. – In its latest iteration, the old Oakland Coliseum has been rebranded as the O.co Coliseum. Based on what’s transpired the last few seasons, they could just as easily call it King Felix’s Palace.
There are plenty of reasons for the Mariners not to like the worn-down relic, but the place is special for their ace. And that’s good enough for them.
On a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon with the field finally in playable conditions, Felix Hernandez delivered another outstanding performance in the cavernous old stadium.
The Mariners got 8 1/3 solid innings from Hernandez, the first save from Fernando Rodney in a Seattle uniform and home runs from Dustin Ackley and Abraham Almonte in a 3-1 win over the Athletics.
“He’s not bad at all,” manager Lloyd McClendon said jokingly after the game. “It was one hell of a game.”
Hernandez was dominant for eight innings, allowing no runs on four hits with eight strikeouts. He lost his shutout bid in the ninth inning, giving up a leadoff solo homer to Jed Lowrie.
Brandon Moss followed with a sharp single to center field and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. McClendon came out to the mound and had a brief conversation with Hernandez, then returned to the bench.
The plan was simple: Hernandez would pitch to free-swinging Yoenis Cespedes and then be done.
“He made the decision and it was up to him,” Hernandez said.
It worked out well. Hernandez got him to pop out to right field. There was a mildly hairy moment during the Cespedes at-bat when he hammered a ball down the left field line. The high fly ball hooked foul at the last minute.
“It scared me a little bit,” Hernandez said.
McClendon felt no such fears.
“It was foul all the way,” he said.
With Cespedes out, McClendon called on Rodney to pitch in his first save situation. He struck out John Jaso looking on an inside fastball and then blew an elevated fastball by Josh Reddick to end the game. Rodney had warmed up for potential save situations in two of the Mariners’ first three wins, but ninth-inning run explosions negated them. This was his first true save situation.
“I take my job seriously no matter if it’s save situation or not,” he said. “No matter if you bring me in with a five run lead or a 2-1 game, I’m going to do the same.”
The Hernandez line of eight innings pitched, one run allowed on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts added to his impressive numbers against the A’s in Oakland.
In his last 10 starts here – dating back to early 2009 – he’s 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA.
He now has 16 career wins against the A’s – the most of any team he’s faced. Early on, it looked like it would be another game where the Mariners failed to provide run support for a solid Hernandez outing. Seattle hitters looked lost against A’s starter Dan Straily for the first four innings, managing just one hit and striking out seven times.
But that all changed in the fifth inning. Kyle Seager led off with a double off the left field wall. One batter later Dustin Ackley drove a fastball into the right field stands for a two-run homer.