Still the King: Mariners Hernandez brings A’s first half to a quiet end

July 9, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

AP17190794395776

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez turns and lets out a yell after striking out Oakland Athletics’ Jed Lowrie to end the top of the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

By Morris Phillips

One of the worst pre-All Star break runs in Oakland A’s history wouldn’t be complete without a contribution from King Felix.

Consider the A’s first half complete.

The 31-year old Felix Hernandez has maintained a hex on the A’s for more than a decade, winning 24 times in 45 career starts, a roll that continued on Sunday with the Mariners 4-0 win in which Hernandez and four relievers shut down the A’s, allowing just two hits.

The A’s concluded the first half with a 39-50 record, the ninth-worst record at the break in the team’s Oakland history. Despite winning four of five coming in, and Hernandez attempting to reinvent himself after a string of injuries, the A’s and their nemesis experienced deja vu once Hernandez took the mound on Sunday.

Hernandez walked three, struck out a season-best eight, and threw 100 pitches in subduing the A’s for six innings. It mattered little that Hernandez has struggled this season, spending nearly two months inactive due to shoulder bursitis. In just his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, Hernandez pitched as if it were old times.

“That’s absolutely the best we’ve seen him all year,” Mariners’ manager Scott Servais said. “He was locked in, had all his pitches working. He just had a different look about him today and that’s what guys that have had the career he’s had, they can turn up the dial a little bit.”

The A’s were limited to Matt Joyce’s double in the third inning, and Jaycob Brugman’s single in the fifth while facing Hernandez. The quartet of relievers following the King were even more stingy, gifting the A’s with a pair of walks, and no hits.

The A’s came into the first half finale, hitting just .197 in their previous 10 games, a stretch hardly masked by the perfume of four wins in their previous five games.

 

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