Life is hard enough when Felix Hernandez is dealing the nasty stuff he had going Friday night.
The A’s made life harder on themselves with one stinker of an effort in a 6-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners before a charged-up crowd at Safeco Field.
Hernandez did his usual thing in this situation, confounding Oakland hitters with a mix of mid-90’s heat and a diving changeup that the A’s didn’t have a prayer against. But that was only part of the story on a night the A’s saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
They played shoddy defense, getting charged with two errors but making other miscues with the glove that didn’t show up in the scorebook. And for just the second time in 10 games, they didn’t get a quality start from their pitcher. Tommy Milone (0-1) got roughed up over five-plus innings in his regular-season debut.
There will be nights like this over a 162-game schedule. The A’s just don’t want too many of them coming against a division opponent that has designs on contending for the first time in years.
Starting pitching report
It was Milone’s first outing in a major league game since March 25, and the lefty was hardly in top form. He surrendered 10 hits over five-plus innings. Just three of his five runs were earned, but he left too many pitches up in the zone. Milone’s turn in the rotation was skipped after last Friday’s game at the Coliseum was postponed due to a wet field. The A’s sent him to Phoenix to face minor league hitters, but Milone’s last big league outing before Friday came in a March 25 Cactus League game against the Cincinnati Reds.
It was 3-0 in the sixth when Mike Zunino launched a two-run homer to left, ending Milone’s night.
Drew Pomeranz gave up a homer to Brad Miller in the sixth,the first run he’s allowed in four appearances. Jim Johnson, making his first apperance since being demoted from closer, had an encouraging outing with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts.
At the plate
Hernandez’s numbers against the A’s in two starts this season: 15 1/3 innings, three runs, 10 hits, 19 strikeouts, one walk.
He picked a good night to be dialed in Friday. The Mariners held “Superior Court” night, a spin-off of their “King’s Court” promotion in which fans in the left field corner wear gold shirts when Hernandez pitches. On Friday, 25,000 gold shirts were passed out along with gold K cards, and the noise level raised every time an A’s hitter got a two-strike count.
The A’s mustered just four hits off Hernandez (3-0) in seven-plus innings. He struck out 11 and walked none, and a party must have been thrown in the visitor’s dugout when he exited the game after the first two batters reached in the eighth.
Oakland broke through against the Mariners’ bullpen, scoring four runs on just two hits in the eighth to make it 6-4. In the ninth, they had a runner on second and two outs when Coco Crisp pinch-hit for Sam Fuld. Crisp, who hadn’t played since Sunday after getting a cortisone shot in his left wrist, struck out on three pitches against Fernando Rodney to end it.
In the field
It was shaky from the get-go. Abraham Almonte lined a ball to left field to lead off the bottom of the first. Cespedes overran the ball, it got by him and Almonte had a double. After Brad Miller reached with a bunt single, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to first baseman Daric Barton. He bobbled the ball while thinking about going to second, and Milone didn’t cover first in time. No outs, run in.
Infield errors on consecutive batters in the fourth let two more runs score for a 3-0 Seattle lead. It all happened after Milone struck out the first two hitters of the inning. After Dustin Ackley’s double, Zunino grounded a ball to the left side. Donaldson made a diving stop on the ball, spun to his feet and fired a ball in the dirt that Barton couldn’t backhand as Ackley scored. Then Almonte lined a one-hopper that glanced off the glove of shortstop Jed Lowrie to allow Zunino to score. It wasn’t the easiest play, but one that has to be made.
Too many mistakes on balls that didn’t -- or shouldn’t have -- left the infield.
A crowd of 38,968 showed up on “Superior Court” night, a promotion built around King Felix. The Mariners ace didn’t disappoint.
Sonny Gray (1-0, 0.75) threw five shutout innings in his first start at Safeco Field in September. He’ll take the mound in Saturday’s 6:10 p.m. game against Erasmo Ramirez (1-1, 5.73).