A revamped roster of Mariners hit .281 in warm Arizona for two months of spring training.
They backed that up by batting that exact average in their season-opening, three-game winning series in Texas.
And now back at the cooler confines of Safeco Field?
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Felix Hernandez sizzled on the mound, striking out 10 in seven scoreless innings. But he couldn’t help his measly offense — one that was the primary culprit in a 2-1 loss to Oakland on Sunday.
The Mariners were swept in a home-opening series for the first time since Cleveland did it in 2011.
Oakland leadoff hitter Coco Crisp broke a 1-1 tie with his solo home run off Nick Vincent with two outs in the 10th inning.
Kyle Seager led off the Seattle half of the 10th with a double, but Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee failed to bring him in against Oakland closer Sean Doolittle.
The Mariners went 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position in the three-game series against the Athletics.
“Top to bottom, (we’ve had) a lot of empty outs,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Early in the count, we’re not squaring balls up like we should.”
Throw in the season-opening 3-2 clunker at Texas, and the Mariners have not driven in any of the 20 base runners in scoring position in their four losses.
And it’s not difficult to pinpoint where the lack of production is coming from. Nelson Cruz, who led the team with 44 home runs a season ago, is 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position in the losses. Seager is also 0 for 4. Cano and Adam Lind are 0 for 2.
“I don’t put pressure on myself,” Cano said. “This is a long (season). You’ve got 156 (games). You’ve got to stay positive, be ready tomorrow and forget about what happened the last three days.”
It’s hard to forget when it wastes a superb “King Felix” pitching performance.
After wigging out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Stephen Vogt to end the fourth inning, Hernandez went into the next inning with 71 pitches.
He retired the next nine hitters in a row — three by strikeouts, and two on groundouts.
On his 99th pitch, he struck out Oakland catcher Josh Phegley for his 10th strikeout. It was his 35th career game of double-digit strikeouts — and the first in nearly a year since he struck out 11 against the Rangers last April.
“The changeup was good today — I had better command of it than last time,” Hernandez said. “The curveball was good. I had a good fastball, locating it on both sides of the plate.”
There was talk among Hernandez, Servais and his staff about letting the Mariners ace go back out for the eighth inning (Seattle was leading, 1-0), but all parties agreed that a 99-pitch outing in the second start of the season was enough.
Instead, newcomer Joel Peralta came on and promptly served up a solo home run to Marcus Semien on a 3-2 fastball to tie the game at 1-1.
In the 10th inning, Nick Vincent — another new member of the Mariners bullpen — left a fastball up in the strike zone. Crisp hammered it over the right field wall.
“The ball was a little bit up,” Crisp said. “It wasn’t the best pitch in the world (to hit), but I was able to make good contact.”
After Seager’s double, Cano struck out on Doolittle’s 94-mph fastball on the outside corner. Cruz flew out deep to left field, and Lee struck out on three consecutive pitches to end the game.
“We’ve got to do more offensively,” Servais said. “Our pitching has done a nice job.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
Crisp cracked a game-winning solo home run with two outs in the 10th inning off Vincent, who had allowed only seven career home runs in 151-plus previous innings.
King Felix looked … well, like his old self. His fastball touched 90 mph on a few occasions, but all of his offspeed pitches were in fine form. He struck out 10 Oakland hitters in seven shutout innings.
The Mariners went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position Sunday — and finished the three-game series 0 for 16. Cruz was 0 for 4 with RISP during the series; Kyle Seager was 0 for 3.
With 10 strikeouts, King Felix has 2,158 for his career with the Mariners — four from tying Randy Johnson (2,162) for the club record. It was his 35th career game with double-digit strikeouts — and the first one in nearly a year. … Cano went 0 for 4 on Sunday and had his 21-game hitting streak snapped. But his first-inning walk extended his MLB-leading streak of reaching base to 31 games.
“For me I do not worry about anything. We lost the series. We just got to go home, get some rest and be ready for (Monday).” — Cano.
After the game, Servais said Joaquin Benoit, the Mariners set-up guy to closer Steve Cishek, was unavailable to pitch on Sunday. … The Mariners were swept by Oakland for the first time since 2012.
The Mariners open another three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Monday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (0-0, 3.60 ERA) makes his second start of the season for Seattle. Right-hander Colby Lewis (0-0, 4.50) starts for Texas.