There’s been no better tonic in recent years for the Mariners than the Oakland Athletics. It’s been that way for Felix Hernandez throughout his career.
Form held Monday night at the Oakland Coliseum as the Mariners won for just the second time in 10 games by rolling to a 7-1 victory over the Athletics. Afterward, Hernandez said it would be his final start of the season.
"I think I’m done," he said. "I don’t think I’m going to go the last day of the season…We talked about it a week ago, about my last start. If we’re not fighting for anything, I’m not going to pitch."
If so, this was a good one to go out on.
The Mariners pummeled Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (4-10) for four homers, including two by Mitch Haniger, in 4 1/3 innings.
That was plenty.
Hernandez (6-5) allowed one run and two hits while throwing 70 pitches over six innings in his third start since returning from a 6 1/2-week stay on the disabled list. He lost his shutout when Marcus Semien hit a two-out homer in the sixth.
Sound dominant? It was and it wasn’t.
Hernandez’s bullpen session prior to the game was so bad that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre warned manager Scott Servais to have Andrew Albers ready to pitch in the first inning.
"Mel said to me, `I don’t know if (Hernandez) can get through the first inning,’" Servais said. "He’s got nothing. Nothing is working.’"
Hernandez said that never changed.
"I was bad the whole game," he said. "I just tried to keep the ball down. Get a lot of ground balls. Throw a lot of sinkers."
Albers replaced Hernandez to start the seventh, worked three scoreless innings, and picked up his first career save.
Perhaps all Hernandez needed was to see the Athletics in the opposing dugout.
He improved to 13-3 in 25 career starts at the Coliseum, which marks the most victories ever by a visiting pitcher. He is 25-9 with a 2.60 ERA in 46 starts overall against the Athletics.
"He just executed," Servais said. "He made pitches tonight. He wasn’t trying to strike people out because he knew he didn’t have his top-notch stuff. It goes to show the kind of talent that Felix really has."
The Mariners have now won seven in a row over Oakland, which matches a franchise record previously achieved in 2009 and 2016. They are also 57-36 against the A’s since the start of the 2013 season, including 31-15 at the Coliseum.
Monday’s victory also dimmed the likelihood of Oakland catching the Mariners in an effort to avoid finishing last in the American League West Division. The Mariners now have a 3 1/2-game edge with five games remaining.
"I know guys are disappointed on how the last (1-5) homestand went," Servais said. "But they came in today, they went through our meetings and our normal preparation. Nobody has backed out."
Mike Zunino’s 24th homer, a three-run blast in the second inning, staked Hernandez to an early lead. Zunino drove a 2-2 fastball from Gossett an estimated 422 feet to right side of dead center field.
The Mariners pushed their lead to 5-0 on one-out homers by Haniger in the third inning and ex-Athletic Yonder Alonso in the fourth. Alonso’s homer was his 26th overall but only his fourth in 38 games with the Mariners.
Haniger’s second homer of the game, and 16th of the season, was a two-run shot in the fifth after a one-out bloop double by Ben Gamel.
"The first one," Haniger said, "I had a real good feeling he was going to throw me a slider. The second one, I just saw it well. I was trying to hit a line drive to right center, and he threw a slider that was good to hit."
***Segura still on the shelf: Shortstop Jean Segura continues to nurse a sprained right middle finger, which he suffered Saturday when he hit by a Mike Zunino throw that deflected off Robinson Cano’s glove.
Servais said Segura could be available this weekend when the Mariners close their season with a three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim. Taylor Motter started Monday at shortstop.
"He wants to get back in there before the season is over," Servais said. "It’s important to him, but he’s not going to be available for a couple of days."
Segura is batting .296, which gives him a chance to become only the third Mariners shortstop to finish at .300 or higher while getting enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
Alex Rodriguez did it four times. Props if you know Felix Fermin did it by batting .317 in 1994.
***Taking stock of the rotation: While Hernandez let the cat out of the bag, Servais admitted earlier Monday that the Mariners’ rotation might change for the final five games.
At the moment, it lines up with James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez pitching the final two games against Oakland. After an open date Thursday, Mike Leake, Hernandez and Paxton are slotted for the three weekend games at Anaheim.
"I’ll talk to Mike Leake to see where he’s at," Servais said. "It’s something that we’ll talk about and be ready to announce (Tuesday).
"I want to talk to all of the parties involved here. We want to do the smart thing. We’re not going to the playoffs. That’s disappointing but, as early as it is, you start preparing for next year."
***Hannemann gets first start: Outfielder Jacob Hannemann made his first career start Monday after entering six previous games this month as a pinch-runner, pinch-hitter or a defensive replacement.
Hannemann, 26, started in center field and batted eighth. With the Mariners eliminated from postseason contention, Hannemann and other little-used players are expected to see additional playing time over the remaining games.
"I don’t want to put all of the young guys out there at one time," Servais said. "We’ll mix them in with the veteran guys. He’s anxious to play. I’m excited to see how he handles it."
Hannemann went hitless in four at-bats.
The Mariners acquired Hannemann from the Chicago Cubs in a Sept. 4 waiver claim. He won a minor-league Gold Glove this season as a center fielder while playing 114 games at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners