Last night In Oakland Fekix Hernandez dueled lefty Brett Anderson and came out the winner on opening day, 2-0. It was Felix’s fifth opening day win and the A’s ninth straight opening day loss. Hernandez went 7.2 innings, giving up three hits, with eight strikeouts, walking one.
For the most part, the A’s looked overmatched. The King was perfect through the first three innings. In the fourth he got in a spot of trouble when former Mariner, John Jaso doubled and advanced to third on a ground ball. Jaso on third, two outs. Shortstop Brendan Ryan made a great play on a bouncer up the middle on the outfield grass, spun and threw out the speedy Yoenis Cespedes. Ryan made another great play in the seventh inning, sliding to catch a foul pop off the bat of Jed Lowrie.
For most of the night it was the Felix Hernandez show, with the A’s struggling at the plate. Hernandez pitched five 1-2-3 innings, and threw 109 pitches before he left the game with two outs in the eighth and runners on first and second. The Mariners bullpen did make the rest of the game adventuresome. Lefty Charlie Furbush came on in relief of Hernandez and walked Coco Crisp to load the bases. Stephen Pryor came on in relief and got Derek Norris to ground out to Dustin Ackley to end the inning. The ninth inning was similarly gripping as closer Tom Wilhelmson untypically struggled with his control. In his inning of work, Wilhelmson threw 18 pitches, only nine of them strikes. With two outs he walked Jed Lowrie, who took second on indifference, and faced the tying run in Brandon Moss. Eventually Moss flew out to right to end the game.
The only scoring in the game came in the fourth. With one out, Ackley walked. The next batter, Brendan Ryan blooped a single into right field. Ackley, holding to make sure the ball wasn’t caught, sped around to third, sliding safely just ahead of a strong, accurate throw by Josh Reddick. Both runners scored when Franklin Gutierrez bounced a single up the middle into center field.
On a night when the A’s hosted a sellout, and 15,000+ fans watched the evening’s festivities on the new big screen at Safeco Field, they saw what we’ve come to expect: Felix dominant, helped out with some great defensive plays eking out an early season win.