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King Felix delivers for Mariners in opening win
OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - King Felix is still on top, all right.
The Seattle Mariners and everybody else received an immediate reminder why this guy is so special _ and so darn tough to hit, too.
Hernandez found his dominant Cy Young form in a hurry, pitching a five-hitter for his 14th career complete game and the majors’ first this year as the Mariners beat the AL West rival Oakland Athletics 6-2 on Friday night.
He tossed the first complete game on opening day in franchise history, too.
“That’s a good outing. The first couple of innings I was a little off the plate, but after that I was throwing a lot of strikes on the corners,” Hernandez said.
Chone Figgins hit a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth inning off Craig Breslow (0-1). Ichiro Suzuki singled twice, drove in a run and stole a pair of bases as the Mariners won their opener under new manager Eric Wedge to end a five-game losing streak in Oakland. Seattle spoiled the A's opener played before a sellout crowd of 36,067 that included 1,000 standing-room only tickets.
Hernandez (1-0) dazzled after allowing Josh Willingham’s two-run, two-out homer in the first. He faced the minimum in each of the next six innings, allowing only a leadoff single to David DeJesus in the fourth before Landon Powell’s base hit to begin the eighth.
“He’s never going to give in,” Figgins said. “He’s not a Cy Young for nothing. He’s not one of the best pitchers in the game for nothing.”
Hernandez, who won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award despite only 13 victories, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter in a 108-pitch gem. DeJesus struck out swinging to end the 2-hour, 50-minute opener. The right-hander is now 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his four career opening-day outings.
“He’s no joke,” new teammate Jack Cust said.
“If you talk about opening day, you can’t ask for much more than that,” Wedge said of his ace.
Willingham wasted little time showing why the A's acquired him from Washington this winter to be their new cleanup hitter and upgrade an offense that managed only 109 homers and 663 runs last season, the team’s second-fewest in the last 28 non-shortened seasons.
Willingham sent the second pitch he saw from Hernandez over the out-of-town scoreboard in left _ the first opening-day homer allowed by Hernandez. Willingham became the 10th player in Oakland history to hit a home run in his first at-bat with the A's. Frank Thomas last did it on April 3, 2006.
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