By Alex Hall
Special to S.F. Examiner
OAKLAND — For years, Felix Hernandez has been a thorn in the side of the Oakland Athletics. On Sunday he’ll face them for the 51st time in his career, as the A’s look to salvage a split of their four-game series with the Seattle Mariners.
Hernandez, who won a Cy Young in 2010, has not been his normal self this season. The 32-year-old has struggled to a 5.49 ERA, more than a run higher than he’s ever posted before, and his once mid-90s fastball now averages just 90 mph.
Out of four meetings with Hernandez this summer, the A’s have won three. The right-hander has pitched reasonably well each time, though, averaging six innings and nearly three runs per game. Oakland’s lineup is up to the challenge, though, having scored 14 total runs against Seattle’s pitching over the last two nights.
Oakland will send Edwin Jackson to the mound. The 34-year-old is having a resurgent season but ran into trouble in his last two starts, failing to make it out of the fifth inning both times. Now that the A’s have 14 relievers in their bullpen, though, pitching deep into the game will be less important than posting zeroes in the innings he does throw.
As for the future of the pitching staff, manager Bob Melvin offered some updates: Brett Anderson is already throwing after going on the disabled list Tuesday with ulnar nerve irritation in his forearm, and he could do so off a mound on Monday. Andrew Triggs could also be headed for a rehab assignment in the minors as he recovers from his own arm nerve irritation.