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SEA@LAA: Hernandez strikes out 11 over six innings

OAKLAND -- After beating the Angels in his club-record seventh Opening Day start, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will be back on the mound Saturday afternoon against another familiar American League West foe, facing the A's at O.co Coliseum.

At least that's the plan, after Friday night's game between the two clubs was postponed when both teams agreed playing conditions weren't safe due to heavy rain overnight when the field was left uncovered.

Hernandez will pitch the 1:05 p.m. PT game as he originally scheduled, with the Mariners skipping Friday starter Chris Young. The A's will go with right-hander Dan Straily, who had been slated for Friday, pushing back Saturday starter Tommy Milone.

Hernandez took Friday's unusual circumstance in stride, declining to make an issue of the ongoing problems at the outdated Oakland facility.

His plan?

"Prepare to pitch tomorrow," Hernandez said as Mariners players began leaving the clubhouse for a Friday night off. "That happens."

Young hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2012 due to shoulder problems and was eager to make his first start for the Mariners after signing a one-year deal two weeks ago. Instead, his next start is in limbo for now as the Mariners said they would stay with previous plans to pitch Erasmo Ramirez in Sunday's series finale.

"It's circumstances beyond my control," said the 6-foot-10 right-hander. "I was excited to pitch, but it is what it is. I'll just be ready when my number is called. I'll take the ball whenever I get it. I'll be ready."

Hernandez has a history of success against the A's, with a 15-7 record and 2.66 ERA in 29 career starts. He went 2-1 with a 1.31 ERA in three starts against Oakland last year.

Hernandez said all spring he's felt physically stronger this year after working out over the winter in Venezuela to add power in his lower body. He gave up a two-run homer to Mike Trout as the second batter he faced Monday on Opening Night in Anaheim, then buckled down and held the Angels to just an unearned run and two more hits over his six-inning start, with 11 strikeouts, in a 10-3 win.

"I felt stronger," Hernandez said. "My pitches were way better after the first two innings. I made a couple mistakes, but I felt really strong."

Straily is 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA in three career starts against Seattle. He was 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA over five stints with Oakland last year and led AL rookies in games started (27), innings pitched (152 1/3) and tied for the lead in wins with the Rangers' Martin Perez.

Straily spent the bulk of spring working on fastball command (he walked 10 in 13 1/3 innings), and A's skipper Bob Melvin agreed that's the biggest key for the 25-year-old righty.

"A lot of times it's his slider that's maybe his best pitch, but commanding his fastball and getting ahead in the count is probably key and consistent with any starting pitcher. That's the case with him. If he gets strike one, now he gets more unpredictable, and he's moving around inside and outside, the plate gets a lot larger for him. That's what we're looking for from him."

Mariners: Leone added to bullpen
After giving up a walk-off home run to Coco Crisp leading off the 12th inning of Thursday's series opener, right-handed reliever Hector Noesi was designated for assignment Friday and the Mariners promoted rookie Dominic Leone.

Leone, 22, had 16 saves in Class-A and Double-A ball last year and nearly made the Mariners' 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He never had a chance to pitch for Triple-A Tacoma this spring, however, as the Rainiers were rained out of their opener Thursday. On Friday morning, Leone got a call from the Mariners and was told to catch a flight to Oakland.

He arrived in time to work out before Friday night's game, only to find out that it was postponed as well. But he'll get his chance to pitch soon enough, according to manager Lloyd McClendon.

"He's a talented young man, capable of multiple innings," McClendon said. "I will not be afraid to put him in impactful situations, because he's that good and we feel that good about him. I think he adds a lot to this bullpen."

Athletics: Fuld making strong impression
With offseason acquisition Craig Gentry due to rejoin the A's as soon as next week from a disabled list stint for back soreness, a roster decision awaits. And reserve outfielder Sam Fuld is making that decision tough.

Fuld has gone 3-for-9 with a pair of triples in two games and just missed an inside-the-park home run in Thursday's 3-2, 12-inning win over the Mariners.

"I knew he was a good player," Melvin said. "But he's probably an even better player than I thought. He does a lot of things that don't show up in the box score."

Fuld, 32, can opt out of his contract on June 1 if he's not on a big league roster.

"In my situation, you just make the most of your opportunities," he said. "You never know how many more you're going to get. Obviously, you just try to control what you can control, and that's how you play."

Worth noting

• Seattle's starters combined to go 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 25 innings in the Mariners' first four games. Now, Hernandez slides back in with the fifth start of the year following Friday night's postponement.

• When Coco Crisp hit a walk-off home run to win Thursday night's game in the 12th inning, it was his 50th career homer with the A's. Of those, 25 have given Oakland a lead. Crisp also has 143 career steals for the A's, needing one more to tie Reggie Jackson for fifth in franchise history.

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