King Felix, as usual, dominates the A’s

OAKLAND COLISEUM — The A’s are glad there’s only one Felix Hernandez. It seems anytime the Mariners ace takes the mound, the chances the A’s can beat him are slim to none.

Hernandez tossed seven scoreless innings while striking out eight, and 41-year old catcher Henry Blanco — acquired just yesterday by the Mariners — added a grand slam and the Mariners blanked the A’s, 4-0.

Hernandez improves to 15-6 in his career against the A’s and 8-2 with a 2.64 ERA (33 earned runs in 112-1/3 innings) lifetime at the Coliseum. Not trying to jinx his good fortune, he didn’t directly answer why he pitches so well in Oakland:

Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“I’m trying to do my job, trying to throw good pitches, make good pitches. At the beginning of the game I was a little wild, struggling a little with my command and after that I was way better.”

Leaving little margin for error, Seattle threatened in the second, fourth, and fifth innings, each time putting a runner in scoring position.

Seattle finally came through in the sixth. Following a leadoff single to right by Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse doubled to right center.

With runners on second and third, losing pitcher A.J.Griffin intentionally walked Michael Saunders to load the bases, bringing up Blanco.

The veteran wasted no time, homering to left just inside the foul pole on the first pitch by Griffin, an 88-mph fastball. Griffin lasted six innings, but gave up all four runs on just one pitch:

A’s pitcher A.J. Griffin

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“To go 5-1/3 scoreless and then give up a grand slam like that and then get the next two guys out is frustrating and hopefully we’re not talking about something like this again.”

Blanco was released by the Blue Jays on June 10. The Mariners signed him four days later and he paid immediate dividends:

Mariners catcher Henry Blanco

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“I was hoping I could still get a job and show them that I can still play. It was pretty good, that was a special day today.”

The one-time personal catcher of Greg Maddux had a wide-eyed grin when interviewed by reporters in the clubhouse after the win:

“(Griffin) was working me with a lot of fastballs inside so I was trying to get a pitch so I could drive in some runs and I got a grand slam. I wasn’t looking for it but it worked out pretty good. …I wanted to be aggressive, he’s trying to throw me a fastball to get in (get ahead) and I did. …I got him.”

The late afternoon game was a study in frustration for the Athletics, who had few opportunities to beat King Felix.

Jed Lowrie doubled to right to lead off the fifth. With one out, Chris Young hit a fly ball to shallow right field. Lowrie tried to score and was easily gunned out on a perfect one hop throw to the plate.

In the seventh, Hernandez’s final inning, the A’s had runners at first and second with nobody out but failed to score.

The A’s left only five men on base but were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Manager Bob Melvin knows Hernandez is a tough pitcher to beat, saying there are only a few ways to have success against him:

A’s manager Bob Melvin

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“You either try to get him on an off-day or get his pitch count up and get him out of there a little bit earlier. We were on our way for the first three innings we got his pitch count up some but then he got back into it and pitched well.”

The last chance for Oakland was runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth, but young Yoervis Medina got the next three batters to end it.

After winning 11 straight at home, the A’s have now lost two in a row at the Coliseum. They’ll try to salvage the finale on Father’s Day with Bartolo Colon (7-2, 3.14) opposing Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (7-1, 1.79). First pitch at 1:05 p.m.

Notes

The A’s have lost four of their last seven games. … Josh Donaldson is 1-for-21 over his last five games and batting .121 (4-for-33) since his batting average peaked at .332 on June 5. … Blanco hit his second career grand slam, his first since May 12, 2000 for Milwaukee at Pittsburgh. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the gap of 13 years and 34 days between grand slams is the fifth-longest in Major League history.