Although Seattle's ace hasn't been quite as sharp over his last three starts, Felix Hernandez should be feeling a lot better as he looks to send the Oakland Athletics to their longest home skid in seven years.
Seeking his first victory in almost a month, a healthy Hernandez will try to bounce back and lead the visiting Mariners to their fifth straight win in the opener of Wednesday's doubleheader.Since going 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 39 strikeouts over his first four starts, Hernandez (3-1, 2.53 ERA) has allowed 12 runs -- seven earned -- with 14 strikeouts over 18 innings in his last three, all losses for Seattle (16-15).The right-hander struggled as he battled the flu Friday, giving up three runs with three walks and a hit batter over a season-low five innings in a 5-4, 11-inning loss at Houston."He didn't have much strength going out there," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He battled and gave us five innings. I didn't know what we'd get out of him. I knew he was drained."Now the four-time All-Star goes after his first win since beating the A's (19-14) for the second straight start April 11. In those two meetings, he surrendered just three runs with 19 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings.With Seattle's 3-1 road win April 5, Hernandez improved to 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last eight outings in Oakland. Josh Reddick (4 for 30), Josh Donaldson (3 for 21) and Yoenis Cespedes (5 for 27) are among the A's who have struggled against him.That doesn't bode well for an Oakland team that has totaled 12 runs while hitting .174 over its last five games overall and has also scored 12 with a .200 average during a five-game home losing streak.Dan Straily (1-2, 5.01) will try to keep the A's from dropping six straight at home for the first time since September 2007.After allowing four runs over 13 innings in his first two starts, Straily has gone 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA in his last four. On Friday, he gave up two runs and walked three over 4 1/3 innings in a 7-1 loss at Boston."Anything less than five innings really is just unacceptable," the right-hander said. "I've got to do better than that."Straily hasn't made it through five innings in two of his four starts against the Mariners, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. He also opposed Hernandez on April 5 when he gave up three runs with seven strikeouts over six innings.The Mariners have totaled 29 runs while hitting .349 with runners in scoring position during a winning streak they pushed to four with Tuesday's 8-3 victory. They've won six of seven on their rain-shortened nine-game trip and are 9-2 since an eight-game slide."It's been something incredible," winning pitcher Roenis Elias said. "Everybody's together doing their job. I like my team how they're playing baseball."In the nightcap Wednesday, the Mariners will hand the ball to Erasmo Ramirez (1-3, 6.75) in the makeup of an April 4 rainout.Ramirez will try to make the most of his opportunity in his first start since getting booted from the rotation last month. The right-hander gave up eight runs over nine innings in two losses to Oakland, falling to 0-4 with a 5.47 ERA in five career starts in this series.He'll likely be opposed by Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 1.98), who is expected to make his first start since July 22.Pomeranz has gone 4-14 with a 5.40 ERA in 30 career starts, and has been used a reliever in all nine appearances in 2014. Brad Miller's home run April 11 is the only run the left-hander has allowed in three innings against the Mariners this season.