OAKLAND -- Monday night was a whole lot of King Felix at the Coliseum, Felix Hernandez leading the Mariners to a 2-0 win over the A's in the season opener for both teams.
And it only seems as if the A's get Hernandez in Game 1 every year. Why it was just five seasons ago, 2009 to be exact, when the A's didn't face Hernandez in the opener.
It is more a tribute to Hernandez's skill than anything else that the A's have done so poorly the five times (2007 in addition to the last four seasons) they have opened against him. He has thrown 39.1 innings in a total of five opening day starts, giving up just six runs while striking out 35, good for a 1.33 ERA and a 3-0 record.
Hernandez allowed three hits and one walk while striking out eight Monday before the Seattle bullpen closed it out, albeit with some drama in the eighth inning.
Seattle center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, perhaps Hernandez's closest friend on the Mariners roster, singled up the middle with runners on second and third in the fifth inning to produce the game's only runs as Oakland lost on opening night for the ninth consecutive season.
That's the longest streak of losing openers in American League history and it matches the major league record set by the New York Giants over a century ago (1893-1901) and matched by the Atlanta Braves (1972-80).
After scuffling with two hits and no runs through seven innings, the A's finally got Hernandez out of the game when Seth Smith doubled with two out in the eighth and Eric Sogard worked a walk. Hernandez was lifted after 109 pitches and reliever Charlie Furbush loaded the bases with a walk.
With Derek Norris pinch-hitting for John Jaso, the Mariners went to the bullpen one more time for Stephen Pryor, who induced an inning-ending grounder from Norris. Oakland didn't touch closer Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth.
Pitching the opener in front of a full house of 36,067, A's lefty Brett Anderson got ground balls to start double plays in the second, third and fourth innings.
In the fifth, however, Brendan Ryan, the Mariners' No. 9 hitter, got a pitch he could hit in the air and singled to right-center. The runner on first, Dustin Ackley, lit out for third and when right fielder Josh Reddick tried and failed to throw Ackley out, Ryan took second.
Anderson got another ground ball, but this one hit off the mound and skittered into center field as both Ackley and Ryan scored.
The first 10 Oakland batters went down to start the game, but Jaso doubled off Hernandez with one out in the fourth. He made it as far as third base, but a nice defensive play Ryan bailed Hernandez out of trouble.
The A's didn't get another base runner until the sixth, when Smith looped a single to left, but Smith wound up being stranded at first. It was Smith again with two out in the eighth. He doubled, hitting a bullet to right to become the second Oakland runner in scoring position.