|Mariners' Hernandez starting vs. A's after 18 days out|
Felix Hernandez hopes to take something positive into the offseason.
Hernandez, 32, the longtime Seattle ace who has been sidelined since Sept. 8 with a strained right hamstring, is scheduled to start for the Mariners on Wednesday night in the finale of a three-game series against the playoff-bound Oakland Athletics.
"I feel good. No problems. It's 100 percent," Hernandez told MLB.com of his injury. "I just want to finish strong and show them I can still pitch. It wasn't a big injury. They just wanted to give me some rest."
This season has, for the most part, been one to forget for Hernandez (8-13, 5.46 ERA), a six-time All-Star and former American League Cy Young Award winner who also has a perfect game to his credit.
The right-hander hasn't won since June 30, going 0-7 with a 6.14 ERA in his past 10 games, including the first relief appearance of his career after briefly being banished to the bullpen.
Hernandez said he's looking forward to one last start to work on some changes he's made on his mechanics in recent weeks.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said it's important to give Hernandez another start, especially for his mental outlook.
"One, he really wants to and that's good," Servais said. "No. 2, it is important to just go into the offseason with peace of mind. You want good results obviously and go out throw the ball well and give us a chance to win the ballgame. But also, so he feels good about where he's at physically. Then you can gear up and figure out what your offseason program is going to be and how you're going to get ready for next year."
Hernandez has enjoyed plenty of success against Oakland in his career, going 26-13 with a 2.78 ERA in 51 career games -- including that lone relief appearance.
Oakland (95-63), which is 2 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the race for the top wild-card berth and a chance to host the one-game playoff, is scheduled to start right-hander Edwin Jackson (6-3, 3.18 ERA) on Wednesday.
Jackson is 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA in five career starts against Seattle.
The Mariners twice rallied from three-run deficits to defeat Oakland 10-8 Tuesday on pinch-hitter Chris Herrmann's two-run homer in the 11th inning. That helped the Mariners (86-71) clinch the season series with Oakland, giving them a 10-8 edge with one game left.
The Athletics, who led 8-5 after seven innings, dropped to 68-1 this season when leading entering the eighth, the last major league team to suffer a defeat in such situations.
A's manager Bob Melvin admitted he was shocked by the result, which gave the Houston Astros the American League West title.
"Yes, because of the way things have gone for us this year, but I don't know how many times that happened," Melvin said. "Not in many seasons I've managed. If it happened once, it happened once. It's certainly a pretty good track record up to this point."