Hernandez blanks A's, Kennedy makes them pay

451866.jpg

Hernandez blanks A's, Kennedy makes them pay

April 21, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

SEATTLE (AP) It was just like old times for Felix Hernandez - strong outing on the mound and next to no run support.Hernandez took a shutout into the eighth inning Thursday night and Adam Kennedy's home run was all the Seattle Mariners needed to beat the Oakland Athletics 1-0."I was making great pitches. I was on it all night," Hernandez said. "I make good pitches, they give me one run, we win."Hernandez (2-2) allowed four singles, two by Cliff Pennington and one by David DeJesus and Josh Willingham. He struck out eight and walked three before leaving after a season-high 126 pitches.Hernandez won the Cy Young Award last season with a meager 13-12 record and 2.27 earned run average. He had the lowest run support in the American League, 3.10 runs per game. The Mariners scored one run or fewer in 10 of his starts.
GUTIERREZ: A's wasting stellar starting pitching
One run was enough this time, even though he A's threatened in the eighth and ninth.Jamey Wright took over in the eighth with two outs and Pennington on second and DeJesus on first. Conor Jackson grounded out on his first pitch to end the inning.Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fourth save in four chances but it wasn't easy.He gave up a leadoff single to Willingham, who reached second on Ryan Sweeney's groundout. Kurt Suzuki then popped out to first, with Kennedy making a nifty, over-the-shoulder catch, and Mark Ellis popped out to the catcher.Hernandez is 11-4 in 19 career starts against the A's with a 2.61 ERA. He has won 10 of his last 12 decisions against Oakland since April 2, 2007."He was special tonight. He had command of the ballgame all night long," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "His stuff is as good as anyone in the game. We took him as long as we could take him. He really dug in and dug deep for us."Kennedy homered for the second night in a row, sending a 3-1 fastball from Brandon McCarthy (1-1) into the right-field seats with one out in the fourth. It's the third time in his career he has hit home runs in consecutive games."It's certainly an at-bat I'd like to have back," McCarthy said. "I got behind him and then had to come into his wheelhouse with that pitch. Going against Felix, you know you have to do your best to avoid at-bats like that."Kennedy also had an outstanding evening in the field in just his ninth career start at first base. He is filling Justin Smoak, who is on bereavement leave.He made at least four stellar plays. The critical one came in the seventh with two outs and a runner on first. Ellis hit a grounder to deep short. Kennedy made a long, falling-down stretch on shortstop Brendan Ryan's arching throw for the out."You're just trying to survive when you play out of position like that," said Kennedy, who has played just 58 of his 1,465 career innings at first base. "We're not scoring a lot of runs and all our pitchers are pitching their hearts out. You have a little extra energy for them to make those plays."McCarthy, the ultimate victim of lack of run support this game, went eight innings for his second career complete game. He allowed four hits while walking one and striking out six. His ERA is now 2.10.His other complete game was May 24, 2009 when he was with Texas against Houston.Over the past seven games, the A's starters have a 1.13 earned run average. Overall, the staff leads the major leagues with a 2.52 ERA.Carlos Peguero got his first major league hit by beating out a single to shortstop in the third. He was then quickly picked off first.This was the 41st 1-0 victory in Mariners history, the third for Hernandez. It also was the 25th time in club history the Mariners have shut out the A's.Notes: Both teams had late lineup changes. Mariners LF Milton Bradley was scratched because of an upset stomach. An illness also forced 1B Daric Barton out of Oakland's. Barton pinch hit in the eighth. ... RHP Shawn Kelley, who had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 1 last year, joined the Mariners after his extended spring in Arizona. "It definitely feels like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, getting out of Arizona," he said. He's hoping to return by June 1. ... A's LHP Dallas Braden had his ailing shoulder examined by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum and he found no structural damage. "Just a little stiffness in the shoulder," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We'll treat him and go from there." ... A's RHP Michael Wuertz, on the DL with a strained left hamstring, threw 39 pitches for Triple-A Sacramento Wednesday. He will throw again Saturday.

NBA Gameday: Smiling Kings look to pounce on stumbling Hornets

NBA Gameday: Smiling Kings look to pounce on stumbling Hornets

SACRAMENTO -- The new-look Sacramento Kings stunned the Denver Nuggets Thursday night in their first game without DeMarcus Cousins. They look to make it two straight Saturday afternoon when Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets drop by Golden 1 Center for a 2pm matinee.

Welcome to the big leagues Willie Cauley-Stein. The second-year big man went off for a career-high 29 points against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets last time out. Highlight reel dunks are becoming the norm for the athletic 7-footer as he tries to fill some of the void left by Cousins’ departure.

The Hornets are on a slide. Losers of 12-of-13, including an overtime stumble against the Pistons on Thursday, Charlotte sits 3.5 games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

OPENING LINE
Hornets by 2.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Tyreke Evans vs. Nic Batum -- Evans will likely come off the bench in his second game back in Sacramento. The former top pick of the Kings is still playing himself into game shape after missing most of the first half of the season with a knee injury. He dropped in 15 points, three assists in four rebounds against Denver as a point forward. Batum is a versatile wing that loves to stuff the stat sheet. Walker is the primary scorer, but Batum is the player that make the Hornets go.  

WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 25-33, third place in Pacific

Hornets: 24-33, fourth place in Central

INJURY REPORT
Kings: SG Arron Afflalo (hamstring) out, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, G/F Garrett Temple  (left hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.

Hornets: C Cody Zeller (quad contusion) questionable, C Miles Plumlee (calf) out, PG Ramon Sessions (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY
The Hornets swept the season series 2-0 last season, but Sacramento came away with a 109-106 win in the only matchup this year.  Charlotte holds a 13-11 lead in the all-time series between the two clubs.  

QUOTE
“We’ve got a very solid locker room. Even though a couple people aren’t there, guys have an opportunity to step forward in leadership and hug on each other and there’s lots of smiles and hugs right now and [we got] the first one out of the way. That’s a positive vibe to have just to come to work every day. So I think that’s positive.” -Dave Joerger following the win over Denver

 

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

Hendriks cites travel, readiness as reasons he withdrew from WBC

MESA, Ariz. — In his heart, Liam Hendriks wanted to pitch for his national team in the World Baseball Classic. In reality, the A’s reliever just couldn’t justify it.

So Hendriks withdrew from joining Team Australia for its first-round games in Tokyo. He becomes the second Athletic to bow out of the WBC after left fielder Khris Davis decided not to play for Mexico. Relievers John Axford (Canada) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic), and starter Sonny Gray (United States) are still slated to play, though Gray wouldn’t join the American squad unless it advances to Round 2 and Casilla still hasn’t reported to A’s camp because of visa issues, so his exact plans aren’t known.

“When I really sat down and thought about it, I’m not quite where I want to be to be pitching in competitive games yet,” Hendriks said Saturday morning. “I’m not hurt or anything like that. There’s no issues, I feel great physically. But it’s one of those things, I’m not quite ready to go into a game, and I know if I get into a situation where if I push it a little bit more, I’m going to overextend myself and I don’t want to do that. And I don’t want to risk this season coming up with Oakland.”

Hendriks told Australian officials he could be available for Round 2, but it will be a joint decision between how he was feeling and whether the Aussie pitching staff needs him.

The right-hander was originally scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s Cactus League opener, in an effort to get him into game shape for the WBC. Now that he’s not playing in the first round, the A’s are slowing him down just a bit. Hendriks will throw on the side a bit more and then throw live batting practice before pitching in an exhibition.

“I could pitch in a game right now … but I’m not confident in all my pitches,” he said. “I’m confident in my spring training pitches, but it’s not midseason form like I’d want to be to be able to perform for that (Australian) team.”

The 30-hour round trip travel to Tokyo also complicated things, with Hendriks saying his throwing schedule would have been thrown out of whack upon his return.

Now 28, Hendriks pointed out that he got to pitch in the 2009 WBC as a wide-eyed 20-year-old, getting his roster spot because a veteran backed out. He’s hopeful another youngster now gets the same opportunity.

Hendriks posted a 3.76 ERA in 53 appearances last season, but pitched particularly well over the second half of the season, setting him up as an important piece of this year’s A's bullpen.

“It’s just a better decision for my career and my season,” he said.