Felix Hernandez

Mike Fiers will be A's Opening Day starter; Marco Estrada to follow

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AP

Mike Fiers will be A's Opening Day starter; Marco Estrada to follow

While we knew it was possible that Mike Fiers would be the A's Opening Day starter, it was made official Saturday.

Marco Estrada will pitch the A's second game in Japan the following day.

Fiers, 33, was reacquired by the team in December when he signed a two-year, $14.1 million deal.

Fiers came to the A's from the Tigers during the midseason last year in a trade and instantly became one of the most reliable pitchers on the staff. He finished his 2018 A's campaign boasting a 3.74 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 53 innings. 

This will be Fiers' first career Opening Day start. 

[RELATED: Projecting A's rotation behind Fiers]

The A's will face the Mariners in Japan as their 2019 season starts, but they will not see Felix Hernandez, whose Opening Day streak ends at 10. The Green and Gold will go up against left- hander Marco Gonzalez on March 20.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's take loss heading into All-Star break

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's take loss heading into All-Star break

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SEATTLE — It wasn’t Turn Back The Clock Day at Safeco Field, but the A’s saw a rather vintage version of Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez.

The former Cy Young winner, who hasn’t been particularly sharp so far in an injury-marred season, held the A’s to two hits over six innings as Oakland lost 4-0 on Sunday. With that, they settled for a four-game split with the Mariners heading into the All-Star break.

The A’s are 39-50 at the intermission, their ninth worst record at the All-Star break in their Oakland history. It hasn’t been any one thing that’s landed them in last place in the AL West, but rather a collection of breakdowns that have surfaced at any given time. On Sunday, they couldn’t anything going offensively, advancing just one runner as far as third base and only one other as far as second.

Here’s five things you need to know from this one before the A’s head their separate ways for the four-day All-Star break:

Gossett’s day: Rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett has surrendered eight home runs in his first six big league starts. That’s a switch from the pitcher who gave up just four long balls in 60 2/3 innings for Triple-A Nashville before being promoted, but obviously the task is much different facing major league hitters. Nelson Cruz got to him for a two-run shot in the fourth. Gossett lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his final start of the first half and gave up three runs on five hits. Keeping the ball in the yard will have to be an emphasis coming out of the All-Star break.

Impressing with the glove: There’s no doubt third baseman Matt Chapman is struggling at the plate, but it sure hasn’t affected his defense. The rookie turned in his finest play yet in the field since being called up to the majors. In the second inning, Cruz hit a ball down the line. Chapman backhanded it and quickly unloaded an off-balance sidearm throw from foul territory that was a strike all the way across the diamond to get Cruz by several steps. It generated quite a reaction from the Mariners crowd. On the downside, Chapman went 0-for-3 with two more strikeouts, leaving him 2 for his past 24 with 13 strikeouts.

Cruz strikes again: Traditionally an A’s, killer, Cruz once again did damage with his two-run shot that gave Seattle a 3-0 lead. He also homered in Thursday’s series opener, which was the 300th homer of his career.

Bullpen shuffle: Sean Doolittle was called upon in a somewhat uncharacteristic scenario, with the A’s trailing 3-0. Doolittle handled the sixth and registered a 1-2-3 inning. With the All-Star break coming up, manager Bob Melvin probably didn’t mind going to his lefty on back-to-back days, even with the A’s trailing.

Rotation update: Melvin announced that Sonny Gray, Paul Blackburn and Sean Manaea will start the first three games out of the break against Cleveland.

A's, Mariners engage in Twitter battle stemming from 'Happy Felix Day'

A's, Mariners engage in Twitter battle stemming from 'Happy Felix Day'

The A's and Mariners don't meet in the regular season until April 20, but that didn't stop the division rivals from engaging in a competition on Wednesday.

It started just after 11am when the Mariners tweeted out a video promoting the days that ace Felix Hernandez will pitch. Within the clip, a man presents a ring to his wife and says "Happy Felix Day." The ring has baseball stitches etched in it.

It took just two minutes for the A's to respond.

"Congratulations on inventing a day so that you could finally get a ring," the A's wrote to the Mariners.

The Mariners responded with a clip of a fictional A's player striking out and being handed a giant "K" ballon by the Mariners catcher.

The A's politely thanked the Mariners and told them they'd tie the balloon to one of their four World Series trophies so that it doesn't fly away, an obvious jab at the fact that the Mariners have yet to win a World Series in their 40 years of existence.

The Mariners were not impressed by the A's titles that were won in the 1970's and 1980's.

In turn, the A's offered the Mariners an L-shaped balloon.

The back-and-forth ended with the Mariners tweeting a clip of Felix Hernandez laughing and the message "See you in 2017."

Check out the full thread here: