After spending nearly two months away from home, the Seattle Mariners will get their first chance for a lengthy stay there.
The Mariners will try to kick off their nine-game homestand with a win over an already-familiar foe, the Oakland Athletics, on Friday night.
Since opening spring training in Arizona, they have traveled to Japan, returned to Peoria, Ariz., and then traveled to Oakland and Texas. Seattle went 4-4 over that well-traveled stretch and split its two games against the A's across the Pacific Ocean last month.
"Even by baseball standards (it's long)," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Like I said to all of our guys, I think everybody's done a really nice job of handling it well. Nobody's complained about it. Everybody's been on point and doing what they need to be doing."
Seattle won both matchups in northern California last weekend before dropping three of four to the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers. Seattle failed to score a run until the sixth inning during a 5-3 loss Thursday.
"You'd be lying if you said it wasn't wearing on you a little bit,'' shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "It'll be nice to unpack."
Felix Hernandez (1-0, 4.40 ERA) will try to help his team bounce back with a strong performance in his third start against A's (3-4) this season, and he's excited to finally pitch in front of the home fans.
"It'll be awesome, man. It's going to be crazy," Hernandez said. "A lot of opening days, eh? But being at home, it's always good."
Hernandez has won six consecutive decisions over Oakland and is 12-2 with a 2.57 ERA in his last 19 matchups. He's also won five straight home starts against the A's while posting a 1.77 ERA and is 7-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 10 all-time matchups there.
"We are used to Felix," A's manager Bob Melvin told the team's website. "We all know what he brings to the table and what he does confidence-wise for their team. Hopefully, we can gain some confidence off of last time."
The right-hander did not get a decision during the season opener in Japan despite allowing one run over eight innings March 28, and he won despite allowing six runs over 6 1-3 innings Saturday in Oakland.
That's in large part because his scheduled counterpart Friday, Bartolo Colon (1-1, 5.84), gave up seven runs and 10 hits over 4 1-3 innings during an 8-7 defeat.
Like Hernandez, Colon is making his third start against Seattle this season and gave up one run over eight innings during a 4-1 win in Japan on March 29. He is 7-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last eight starts in Seattle but hasn't pitched there since May 26, 2008.
This time, Hernandez will face a team that's coming off its first series win of the year. The A's prevailed by one run in each of their two victories over Kansas City earlier this week.
They scored two runs in the 12th inning Wednesday night with Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes getting hit by pitches to finish off a 5-4 win.
"You can hit me four times if we win," Gomes said. "We have to write that down and keep it in the back of our minds because 98 mph could end your season."
Cespedes, a Cuban defector, has hit all three of his home runs against Seattle but none against Hernandez. He has one double and three strikeouts in his four official at-bats versus the right-hander and has been hit by pitches twice.
Seattle is attempting to win its first home opener in three years. The Mariners were swept by Cleveland during their initial series at Safeco Field in 2011 and lost 4-0 to Oakland in 2010.