Jed Lowrie

King Felix outduels Samardzija, controversial strike call leads Punto’s wife to get something off her chest

Nick Punto angry

There was a reason why Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon moved Felix Hernandez’s start from Thursday to Friday.

Facing the A’s, the team they’re chasing in the AL West … yeah, that played in. But the fact that newly-acquired starter Jeff Samardzija was going for the A’s probably made the decision a no-brainer. While the A’s may have gotten themselves an All-Star pitcher in “The Shark,” McClendon may have wanted to show the A’s that King Felix still reigns supreme in the AL West.

And as he always seems to do against the A’s, Hernandez pitched a gem in front of the home crowd in a 3-2 Mariners victory. He went eight innings, allowing two runs and six hits while striking out nine.

The A’s tagged Hernandez for two runs in the first inning, and it seemed like for once, Oakland had gotten to the Mariners’ ace after a Stephen Vogt homer and a two-out RBI by Jed Lowrie put the A’s up 2-0.

But Hernandez settled down, and the A’s never got another hit with a runner in scoring position.

Meanwhile, Samardzija wound up taking the loss despite matching Hernandez’s eight innings. The difference in the game was a flare down the left field line off the bat of Robinson Cano in the sixth inning that just dropped fair, scoring the go-ahead run from second.

The game ended in a ball-strike controversy, however, and it probably wasn’t a shock to the A’s considering they had Angel Hernandez behind the plate twice during their four-game series against the Giants.

With Derek Norris representing the tying run on third with two outs, Nick Punto was called out on strikes on a 3-2 pitch by Fernando Rodney that looked to be up and in, closer to Punto’s armpit than the strike zone.

But home plate umpire James Hoye decided to pull an Angel Hernandez, taking a walk and a chance to tie or even win the game away from the A’s. Punto reacted by taking off his helmet and slamming it in the dirt, which earned him an ejection and probably a fine. Bob Melvin got in his fair share of words as well before being tossed from a game that was ripped away unfairly from his team.

After the game, Punto’s wife Natalie chimed in:

Straight A’s

— Just how dominant is Hernandez? He has not allowed more than two runs total in each of his last 11 starts.

— Hernandez is 3-0 against the A’s this season, and 18-7 in his career facing the Green and Gold. Oakland needs to pray that the Mariners don’t hold on to that second wild card spot.

— Stephen Vogt is unreal. He’s hitting .376 since getting called up — that’s the best batting average in baseball for hitters with at least 100 at-bats. He had two hits and a walk against Hernandez, including a homer to right in the first inning on an 0-2 pitch.

— What do Ray Fosse and LeBron James have in common? They both returned to Cleveland after several years with another team. The A’s broadcast made fun of this, as Fosse spent his first six seasons (1967-1972) with the Indians before being traded to the A’s, but ultimately returned to Cleveland in 1976.

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