A's kick off series in Seattle against King Felix


A's kick off series in Seattle against King Felix

April 21, 2011

A's (9-9) vs.
SEATTLE (6-13)

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
(AP) -- Felix Hernandez hasn't been the same since his opening day victory over the Oakland Athletics.The Seattle Mariners ace will try to get back on track when he faces the visiting A's in the opener of a four-game set Thursday night.Hernandez started 2011 on the right foot with a five-hitter in a 6-2 win over Oakland (9-9) on April 1. He's 3-0 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts against the Athletics since the start of 2009.
REWIND: Hernandez, sloppy D doom A's in opener
Since opening day, Hernandez is 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA in three outings while progressively pitching fewer innings. He gave up five runs - two earned - over five innings in a 7-0 loss at Kansas City on Saturday.The right-hander has received a total of three runs of support in those starts, none in the last two."It will be fine," Hernandez said. "It's just the beginning of the season. We're trying hard. We're trying to do the best we can. We've just got to keep working hard, just keep trying to hit and pitch. That's all we can do."
NEWS: MLB headlines
Hernandez (1-2, 4.33) has enjoyed success against Oakland regulars Kevin Kouzmanoff (3 for 22) and Coco Crisp (5 for 21), while David DeJesus (.346) and Kurt Suzuki (.316) have fared well against him.The Athletics have won five straight at Safeco Field. They lost two of three at home in that opening series, as Crisp was the hitting star by going 5 for 12. Kouzmanoff was 2 for 10, Hideki Matsui 2 for 11 and DeJesus 1 for 12.
RELATED: A's stats page
The teams combined for three homers in that series and continue to struggle in that department. Oakland has the second-fewest in the AL with eight and Seattle (6-13) the third-fewest with 10.Seattle manager Eric Wedge replaced slumping Milton Bradley in left field Wednesday with Carlos Peguero, who made his first major league start and went 0 for 4 in a 3-2 home loss to Detroit. Bradley is 8 for 40 with 13 strikeouts in his last 11 games.The Mariners are without first baseman Justin Smoak, who is on bereavement leave. Wedge has indicated that Adam Kennedy will likely play against right-handers, and his club will face one Thursday in Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 2.45).McCarthy allowed six hits over 6 2-3 scoreless innings in an 8-4, 10-inning loss to the Tigers on Friday.He's 1-1 with a 6.93 ERA in five starts versus Seattle. Ichiro Suzuki is 4 for 15 against him and Chone Figgins 5 for 10.Suzuki was 5 for 12 in the season-opening series. He's batting .358 during a 16-game hitting streak against the A's, who own the majors' best ERA at 2.58.Both teams struggled with runners in scoring position Wednesday. The Mariners went 1 for 9 to drop to an AL-worst .198 while Oakland went 3 for 15 in its 5-3 loss to Boston.
RELATED: Homer happy Red Sox take down Gio, A's
"We didn't take advantage of some situations when we had them," manager Bob Geren said. "We had some of our better hits up in certain situations and didn't necessarily come through."

Steve Kerr responds to notion Andre Iguodala's hip strain a white lie

Steve Kerr responds to notion Andre Iguodala's hip strain a white lie

On Tuesday morning, the Warriors announced that Andre Iguodala would not play against the Mavs because of a left hip strain

"I would go with 'hip' every single night I was looking to rest a player from now on," 95.7 The Game's Damon Bruce said to Steve Kerr on Wednesday. "A little white lie goes a long way. Is it safe to say that Andre Iguodala's 'hip' is gonna look fantastic come Friday?

"I understand where you're going with this, but this was not a white lie," Kerr said in response. "Andre has had hip tightness the last three days or so.

"He played through it in Oklahoma City. And Chelsea Lane, our physical therapist, told me after the game 'Andre really needed the night off. It would be great to knock this thing out over the next few days, so let's give him tomorrow off.'

"And I always listen to the training staff ... hopefully this will knock out any potential injury."

[RATTO: With resting players, there's one obvious solution for Adam Silver, NBA]

On Monday night in Oklahoma City, recorded six points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in about 22 minutes off the bench.

Through his first 57 appearances this season, Iguodala averaged 25.7 minutes per game. Since Kevin Durant's injury, Iguodala is averaging 29.1 minutes per game.

How much influence do trainers and/or physical therapists have in determining if a player suits up or takes a night off?

"Coaches have always had to rely on the medical staff to help them with the decision-making process," Kerr explained. "I think where we've made progress is in the amount of information that we have. As a coach, my job is to kind of gauge where the players are. But we have a lot more knowledge now with some of the technology where the training staff actually can measure how fatigued a player is.

"I think it's a little easier these days for the training staff to come to the coach and recommend something and have some data to back it up."

Kerr is an advocate for reducing the number of games in the regular season, but he understands that's not a reality.

"I don't think that's gonna happen," he said. "I think it would be great, honestly, if they cut it back to 75 games ... but, let's be honest, there's a lot of revenue at stake."

Bullied by Bucks, Kings unable to match playoff intensity

Bullied by Bucks, Kings unable to match playoff intensity

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA learning curve is steep. On Wednesday night in Sacramento, the young Kings faced one of the league’s up and coming players and a team fighting for a playoff spot. The atmosphere was foreign and the Kings didn’t respond well in the 116-98 loss to the Bucks.

Milwaukee came out of the gate and bullied the Kings. They threw a young Sacramento team all over the court on their way to a 69 point half. To add to the insult, some of the Bucks veterans even taunted the Sacramento crowd as they shot a stunning 61.4 percent from the field before the intermission.

“I think we got pushed around a little bit in the first half,” rookie Skal Labissiere said. “But they’re trying to make the playoffs still. They’re trying to make the eighth spot. So we have to be a little bit more physical with them and not let them punk us around.”

What the Kings saw from the Bucks is the mindset of a team fighting for a playoff spot. Wednesday night’s contest is what you see in the tail end of a season when one team has something to play for and the other has gone with a youth movement.

“They’re playing physical, they’re not backing down from nobody,” Buddy Hield said. “They have something they’re playing for. Obviously we don’t right now because our season is out of reach.”

Sacramento’s veterans looked at the game as a learning experience for the younger players. They need exposure to this type of game late in the season. They need to see what the expectations will be in a year or two when the Kings hope to be in a similar situation.

“These guys have to go through it, they have to learn it and then hopefully when we make the playoffs in the coming years, they’ll be able to understand that it jumps to another level,” Garrett Temple said. “The first 50 games is one level, the the next 30 is another and that playoff is different animal.”

Building a winner usually comes in stages in the NBA. By the time you sneak into the playoffs, you have already come close once or twice and the first round matchups are usually against seasoned winning clubs.

That is something the Bucks will learn soon enough. With the win, they are now tied for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, but nothing is certain. They currently sit a game out of the eight spot and just 2.5 from falling to ninth and missing the playoffs entirely.

If they squeak in, they will play either the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in Round 1.

Every game is magnified when you have something at stake late in a season and the Kings were never able to match the intensity of their opponent.

All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a show. The star forward dominated every player the Kings threw at him on his way to a 32-point, 13-rebounds, six-assist performance.

“People think I’m crazy to say that - if he gets a 3-point shot, he’ll be the best player in the league,” Temple said of Antetokounmpo. “He can penetrate, he has great court vision, can handle the ball, not to mention he’s 6-11 and a wiry strength that you don’t understand unless you’re play against him. He can literally play 1-5 in this NBA and he has a mismatch at every position.”

Labissiere drew the first look on Antetokounmpo and it didn’t take long to see that the rookie was overmatched by his opponent’s versatility. Willie Cauley-Stein had some success early in the second half, using his length and getting physical with the star forward, but the game was already decided.

It’s a process. With a youth movement comes games like the one against Milwaukee. All you can ask for is effort, which Sacramento has shown. Despite the team’s 3-11 record since the All-Star break, there is progress, especially from the core of first and second year players.

“They’re getting better and better,” Tyreke Evans said. “They’re still learning the game, but as they’re playing, they’re working hard. They’re working hard in practice, getting reps up. It’s going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight. They’re going to have good games, they’re going to have bad games. You’ve got learn from it.”

Sacramento is in the middle of a seven game stretch against teams tuning up for the playoffs. The schedule doesn’t get any easier Friday when the Kings travel to Oracle Arena to face the Golden State Warriors. It’s another chance to learn on the fly.