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A's face long-time nemesis King Felix today at O.co

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(OAKLAND) -- The King has long been a thorn in the side of the Oakland Athletics.

And no, we're not talking about Bud Selig.

Felix Hernandez brings his game to the O.co Coliseum today to take on the A's, and if history is any indication, the Seattle Mariners' staff ace is going to give the Oakland batters fits: in 29 starts against the A's in his career, the King is 15-7 with a 2.66 ERA.

And for those who were here for the first one in late 2005, it may have been easy to see this coming. Because even though Oakland has won three American League West division titles during Hernandez' career, the team has often struggled against the big righty's stuff.

On September 5, 2005, the A's were in the fight for a division title, of course, one that eventually got away from them. First-place Oakland had beaten the New York Yankees, 12-0, on September 2, but then, the team had lost the next two by a combined 14-3 score to fall into second place.

Enter Hernandez.

He was making just his seventh MLB start, but the buzz was plentiful. And justified, as the Oakland fans in attendance that day (22,262) discovered: the King threw seven scoreless innings, striking out five and giving up just four hits and one walk.

Suddenly, the A's had lost three straight, were now 1.5 games behind the then-Anaheim Angels in the division, and never recovered -- finishing 12-14 in their final 26 games, starting with that Hernandez whitewashing on September 5.

(One could argue the Oakland squad peaked with the 12-0 win over the Yankees, but ... never mind that. The A's finished seven games back in the division, after leading it on September 1.)

Oakland did get to Hernandez the second time they faced him on the final day of the season, collecting eight hits and three runs off the rookie, but the King still struck out five batters again without walking anyone that time in a meaningless game for both teams.

A quick glance at King Felix and his yearly record against the A's:

  • 2005: 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 12 H, 1 BB, 10 K
  • 2006: 0-2, 6.00, 9, 13, 6, 8
  • 2007: 4-0, 1.29, 28, 19, 10, 24
  • 2008: 2-2, 3.00, 30, 24, 8, 33
  • 2009: 1-0, 4.97, 12.2, 14, 6, 12
  • 2010: 1-0, 2.61, 20.2, 19, 9, 23
  • 2011: 3-0, 1.45, 31, 18, 6, 32
  • 2012: 1-2, 4.01, 33.2, 37, 8, 29
  • 2013: 2-1, 1.31, 20.2, 13, 3, 22

There have been times the Oakland hitters have hurt Hernandez, but one thing to note is the strikeouts: in 199.2 innings against the A's in the last ten years, King Felix has punched out 193 Oakland batters. Obviously, he's held them in check no matter what the state of the A's franchise in relation to division contention.

(Note the one season, 2006, when he didn't get a win against Oakland: the entire Mariners squad went 2-17 against the A's that year, so Hernandez wasn't particularly scuffling in that season.)

The King does like pitching in the Coliseum, though: he held the A's scoreless over 14.2 innings pitched here last season. Considering the Oakland offense's inconsistent start to 2014, perhaps he will manage that again today.

Game time is 1:05 p.m., assuming the field is ready. Dan Straily will start for Oakland, pushed back from last night's planned appearance before the game was postponed due to poor field conditions.

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