Felix Hernandez was on top of his game again. The Seattle Mariners starter hurled 8.1 innings against the Oakland Athletics, and the M’s moved to 4-1. After rolling through the Los Angeles Angels lineup his first time out, Hernandez mowed down the A’s Saturday.
King Felix needed just 101 pitches to get through 8.1 innings, as he threw 72 of them for strikes. Jed Lowrie broke up his shutout bid, smacking a home run to right-center to lead off the 9th. Closer Fernando Rodney came on in the 9th to finish off the A’s, striking out John Jaso and Josh Reddick with the tying run on base.
Hernandez issued just one walk, and notched eight strikeouts. The A’s had scoring chances in the 4th, but Hernandez struck out Yoenis Cespedes with runners on second and third to end the inning. In the bottom of the 6th, Hernandez stranded Coco Crisp after he tripled, striking out Josh Donaldson on a changeup and getting Lowrie to pop out.
The Mariners scored all their runs in the top of the 5th inning. Kyle Seager led off with a double, and after Logan Morrison popped out, Dustin Ackley slammed a home run. Abraham Almonte would follow up with a solo shot, giving the M’s a 3-0 lead.
It’s only five games into the season, but the Mariners have looked strong against AL West foes. Their lineup has looked much stronger than in years past, and it’s not just Robinson Cano. Brad Miller is quickly becoming a guy to watch after an impressive half season in 2013. Centerfielder Almonte has added life to a Mariners outfield that was awful last year, and catcher Mike Zunino is a big upgrade on last year’s group.
If Hernandez, James Paxton, and the patchwork of starters that are filling their rotation can hold the fort till Hisashi Iwakuma, Brandon Maurer, and Taijuan Walker return, the Mariners should make some noise. It’s only five games in, but their position is strong in what projects to be a crowded AL West.