Tonight the Seattle Mariners played their first home game of the season after playing eight games on the road and faced off against a familiar opponent, the Oakland Athletics. Starting tonight’s game for the A’s was Bartolo Colon who has had enjoyed great success against the Mariners at Safeco Field. The A’s were facing a pitcher that had dominated regardless of where he pitches in Felix Hernandez. It marked Hernandez’s third start in nine games against the A’s.
Coming into the game in 11 starts for Colon at Safeco he had a record of 9-1 with a 2.09 era, with one complete game, one shutout, 77.2 innings pitched and 55 strikeouts to 12 walks. He added to those totals and his era went down as he threw seven shutout innings, while striking out five, walking one and allowing three hits. He was really only tested twice by the Mariners once in the bottom of the first inning when he allowed a single to Dustin Ackley, then was able to get Ichiro to fly out, before he walked Justin Smoak, yet he got out of the inning by getting Kyle Seager to fly out.
The only other scare for Colon came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ichiro singled, Smoak fouled out, Seager flew out once again, and Jesus Montero then singled putting runners on first and third for Michael Saunders. Colon’s very first pitch a two-seamer to Saunders was ripped and looked like it was going to be a three-run home run, yet it just went foul for a long out. Colon was able to regroup and eventually struck Saunders out to end the threat. He was able to breeze through the rest of the Mariners lineup until by retiring the last 10 batters he faced before giving way to the bullpen.
Ryan Cook relieved Colon and created some trouble for himself, he walked the first two batters he faced to start he bottom of the eighth inning. After a meeting from pitching coach Curt Young, Cook settled down induced a double play from Chone Figgins and another ground ball by Ackley to end the inning with no damage done. Grant Balfour came in and finished the win off in the bottom of the ninth.
As for Hernandez he has started 23 games against the A’s and has a record of 13-4, with a 2.71 era, three complete games, thrown 159.2 innings, while striking out 155 and walking 47. Tonight seemed like no exception to that rule as he breezed through the first two innings and struck out three. The third inning is when the A’s started taking more pitches and were able to capitalize as Daric Barton led off the inning with a single, was able to move up to second on a ground out by Josh Donaldson, Cliff Pennington took advantage of a pitch that was left up by Hernandez and drove Barton in with a double, Jemile Weeks walked, Coco Crisp appeared to have been Hernandez’s fourth strike out victim, yet umpire Tim Timmons called the pitch a ball, which gave Crisp another life and he singled to left field and Pennington was able to score on a bobble by Figgins giving the A’s a 2-0 lead. Crisp picked up the rbi even though it appeared that Pennington was going to stay at third until the ball was bobbled.
Hernandez settled down was able to strike out Josh Reddick and get rookie sensation Y0enis Cespedes to pop out to end the threat. In the fourth inning Hernandez again struggled he got the first out of the inning, then Kurt Suzuki doubled, Barton walked, Donaldson singled, bringing up the top of the order for the A’s. Hernandez got Pennington to strike out on a ball in the dirt and Weeks flew out to shallow left to leave the bases loaded. The A’s weren’t able to come up with any more rallies against Hernandez for the remainder of his seven innings of work.
The A’s managed to add an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Suzuki and added a fourth run in the ninth inning on a solo home run by Weeks.
Tonight also marked the first time in eight games that Cespedes did not reach base, yet he made a highlight reel diving catch. Now from the appearance it looked like the ball may have been trapped, yet it wasn’t. Thanks to Cespedes’ glove being so large it was caught in the webbing, so therefore the ball never actually hit the ground. The only comparison would be an example in football when the ball is caught with the hands underneath the football, so the ball does not hit the ground.
Highlight of the night though was the Mariners organization a classy gesture to a returning soldier from Afghanistan.