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Game #84: Athletics overthrow King Felix on July 4th

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Felix Hernandez really deserves the title of king. He's been baseball's best and most consistent pitcher since he originally joined the Mariners' rotation as a teenager. He's been the one bright spot of a pretty horrifying decade of Mariners baseball.  He's pretty obviously the most popular person in Seattle.

Of more relevance to the A's, he has been dominant when in the Coliseum. Just absolutely incredible.  Lifetime, Felix is 10-2 with a 2.73 ERA in Oakland with over 130 innings pitched. The last time Felix got the loss in Oakland, the opposing pitcher was... Dana Eveland. DANA EVELAND. This was the lineup that day, on September 19th 2008:


So, a foreign king (foreign, of course, meaning Seattle) who had dominated a scrappy, upstart group on their home turf for years came to town for July 4th. This was the perfect situation for narrative and bad puns.

I'm going to ride those bad puns all the way down, man.

Kendall "George Washington" Graveman was brilliant (again!). His Doug Fister-esque skillset was on point today - ground balls and weak contact was the name of the game. Despite only getting one strikeout in his 7 innings, his 52.2% ground ball rate lead to easy outs and double plays. He only walked one, worked the corners, and only got into significant trouble twice.

The first scare was in the first inning, when an Austin Jackson double and a walk to Robinson Cano led to a two on and one out situation. Luckily, Jackson made the ill-advised decision to try to steal third and was caught by a stellar throw from Stephen Vogt. Nelson Cruz struck out, and the Mariners got nothing out of it.

The only other threat happened in the 7th, Graveman's last inning. After two consecutive singles to open the inning, the Mariners lofted two easy fly balls. They did get one hard-hit ground ball, but some stellar defense from Ike Davis stopped the threat.

The A's did just the bare minimum to scrape by on offense, though. Not that it ended up mattering thanks to the work of the A's pitching staff, but for a while, the A's could not get runners home from scoring position. It was ridiculous: there was more traffic on the basepaths than you could ever expect from Felix Hernandez, but the A's just were not able to break through.

The offense started off strong, as Billy "Thomas Jefferson" Burns singled and stole 2nd to start off the first. Ben "John Adams" Zobrist drove him in with a single after Stephen Vogt walked, but a Josh Reddick fielder's choice and a horrifying TOOTBLAN from Vogt ended the threat.

From there, it was a grind. The A's loaded the bases with nobody out in the 2nd inning but got nothing. They stranded runners in scoring position in the 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. They did get one insurance run in the 7th on a Zobrist sacrifice fly, but it had the feeling of a May game, where the A's do just enough to lose in a heartbreaking fashion.

But today is July 4th, and starting a guy with the nickname "King" on July 4th is tempting fate. The bullpen (Drew Pomeranz and Tyler Clippard, the two dependable parts of the bullpen) would convincingly shut things down in the 8th and 9th.