A's kick off series in Seattle against King Felix


A's kick off series in Seattle against King Felix

April 21, 2011

A's (9-9) vs.
SEATTLE (6-13)

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
(AP) -- Felix Hernandez hasn't been the same since his opening day victory over the Oakland Athletics.The Seattle Mariners ace will try to get back on track when he faces the visiting A's in the opener of a four-game set Thursday night.Hernandez started 2011 on the right foot with a five-hitter in a 6-2 win over Oakland (9-9) on April 1. He's 3-0 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts against the Athletics since the start of 2009.
REWIND: Hernandez, sloppy D doom A's in opener
Since opening day, Hernandez is 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA in three outings while progressively pitching fewer innings. He gave up five runs - two earned - over five innings in a 7-0 loss at Kansas City on Saturday.The right-hander has received a total of three runs of support in those starts, none in the last two."It will be fine," Hernandez said. "It's just the beginning of the season. We're trying hard. We're trying to do the best we can. We've just got to keep working hard, just keep trying to hit and pitch. That's all we can do."
NEWS: MLB headlines
Hernandez (1-2, 4.33) has enjoyed success against Oakland regulars Kevin Kouzmanoff (3 for 22) and Coco Crisp (5 for 21), while David DeJesus (.346) and Kurt Suzuki (.316) have fared well against him.The Athletics have won five straight at Safeco Field. They lost two of three at home in that opening series, as Crisp was the hitting star by going 5 for 12. Kouzmanoff was 2 for 10, Hideki Matsui 2 for 11 and DeJesus 1 for 12.
RELATED: A's stats page
The teams combined for three homers in that series and continue to struggle in that department. Oakland has the second-fewest in the AL with eight and Seattle (6-13) the third-fewest with 10.Seattle manager Eric Wedge replaced slumping Milton Bradley in left field Wednesday with Carlos Peguero, who made his first major league start and went 0 for 4 in a 3-2 home loss to Detroit. Bradley is 8 for 40 with 13 strikeouts in his last 11 games.The Mariners are without first baseman Justin Smoak, who is on bereavement leave. Wedge has indicated that Adam Kennedy will likely play against right-handers, and his club will face one Thursday in Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 2.45).McCarthy allowed six hits over 6 2-3 scoreless innings in an 8-4, 10-inning loss to the Tigers on Friday.He's 1-1 with a 6.93 ERA in five starts versus Seattle. Ichiro Suzuki is 4 for 15 against him and Chone Figgins 5 for 10.Suzuki was 5 for 12 in the season-opening series. He's batting .358 during a 16-game hitting streak against the A's, who own the majors' best ERA at 2.58.Both teams struggled with runners in scoring position Wednesday. The Mariners went 1 for 9 to drop to an AL-worst .198 while Oakland went 3 for 15 in its 5-3 loss to Boston.
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"We didn't take advantage of some situations when we had them," manager Bob Geren said. "We had some of our better hits up in certain situations and didn't necessarily come through."

Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter


Gameday: Kings go for home-and-home sweep of Blazers sans sharpshooter

Rinse and repeat. After shocking the Portland Trail Blazers Friday evening at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings hopped on a plane where they’ll face the same team on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back.

Dave Joerger shook up his lineup on Friday, installing De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings responded with their best defensive effort of the season. Cauley-Stein went off for 22 points and 10 rebounds with the second unit and his defensive effort was next level.

The Blazers have become a two-man wrecking crew. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum score the bulk of the team’s points on a nightly basis, but coach Terry Stotts is still searching someone who is ready to step up and help. Jusuf Nurkic is part of the puzzle, but the Blazers need more consistency from the other 12 players on the roster.

Blazers by 12

De’Aaron Fox vs. Damian Lillard -- Fox put on a defensive show against Portland at Golden 1 Center. The rookie came into the league with high-end potential as a two-way player and he showed it against Lillard, holding the All-Star point guard to 29 points, but on 9-of-25 shooting. Lillard loves to hoist up shots. If Fox can't provide the same pressure, the Kings will struggle to keep up with the Blazers.

Kings: 4-11, fifth place in Pacific

Trail Blazers: 8-7, third place in Northwest

Kings: SG Buddy Hield (sprained ankle) out, F Vince Carter (kidney stones) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January.

Trail Blazers: F Al Farouq Aminu (ankle) out, G C.J. Wilcox (knee) out, PG Wade Baldwin (thumb) out.

CONSISTENCY -- You can’t show flashes of brilliance and then take a step back. The Kings defensive effort and overall intensity won the game on Friday night. It’s a place to build from.

FINDING A ROLE -- Joerger shook up everything when he turned to Fox and Labissiere. Offensively, both players struggled, as did Bogdanovic off the bench. This group of young players needs to find a role and figure out a way to help the team, even when the shots aren’t falling.

GET DEFENSIVE -- Portland didn’t know what hit them Friday evening, but they’ll have a few hours to make adjustments. Sacramento’s bigs showed on every high screen and roll. The guard and wing play was aggressive and spot on. The Kings are young and energetic. If they can focus that energy on the defensive end night in and night out, they might have a chance to build something.

Sacramento leads the season series 1-0 after Friday night’s win. The Blazers lead the all-time series 129-78 and they own the Kings during the Sacramento-era 88-47.

"Whether you think the sky is falling or not, we are 3-3 in our last 6 games." - Dave Joerger

Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be


Play of Jones, Khudobin this season proof of how fickle goaltending can be

Martin Jones was a Boston Bruin for less than a week.

The “Original Six” franchise acquired Jones from the Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2015. Four days later, Jones was traded back into the Pacific Division, this time to Northern California.

The Sharks gave up a first round pick and prospect Sean Kuraly for Jones. It seemed like a fairly high price at the time, but it’s one San Jose was happy to pay: No goalie started more games than Jones over the last two seasons, and the team signed him to a five-year extension this summer.

The first Jones trade in 2015 set off a flood of goalie transactions, as five netminders were traded during Jones’ extremely brief Boston tenure. One of those was Anton Khudobin, who will start for the Bruins as Jones backs up Aaron Dell against  his “former team” on Saturday night.

Khudobin was traded from Carolina to Anaheim, where he started seven games before getting sent down to the AHL. He then signed with Boston in 2016, returning to his former club as the Bruins tried to fill the hole that trading Jones left behind entrenched starter Tuukka Rask.

Jones and Khudobin will have taken vastly different paths to their respective creases on Saturday night. The former enters the game as his club’s undisputed franchise goalie, and the latter the unheralded backup.

Naturally then, Khudobin’s been the better goaltender this season.

Among the 46 goalies that have played 200 five-on-five minutes this season, Khudobin’s .962 five-on-five save percentage was the best entering Saturday, according to Corsica.  So, too, is his .954 save percentage off of high-danger shots.

Jones, meanwhile, ranks 27th (.920) and 14th (.833) in those respective categories.

What does it all mean? For one, it’s early in the season, and the fact that Khudobin’s made seven fewer starts undoubtedly plays a role in his superior performance to Jones.

Mainly, it speaks to just how fickle goaltending can be.

The Bruins backup is arguably getting the nod Saturday night because of how bad the man ahead of him has been. Rask, once one of the league’s best goaltenders, has steadily declined over the last three years and reached a new low this season: This year, he’s 40th out of 46 qualifying goalies in five-on-five save percentage.

Jones has demonstrated this, too. He’s stopped a lower percentage of low-and-medium danger shots at even strength than the last two seasons, but has stopped a higher percentage of high-danger shots.

Plus, he’s played behind one of the league’s best penalty-killing teams after playing behind one of its worst last season, and has benefitted from a corresponding bump in his shorthanded save percentage.

So much of what a goalie does is out of their control. Yet who’s playing in front of them, what kind of shots they see, and how often they see those shots all can affect their performance.

Khudobin and Jones are living proof of that this season.