Who, exactly, is the ace of the Mariners' rotation?
Unquestionably, it's the man who signed a seven-year, $175 million contract over the winter. But Hisashi Iwakuma is dealing like a No. 1 pitcher, too, and the Mariners certainly aren't griping about it.
"They're unbelievable," said second baseman Dustin Ackley. "Any time you go out there, you're like, 'Let's just get a couple runs and these guys are going to cruise.' They are probably, arguably, right now the two best starters in baseball."
The statistics support Ackley's claim. Hernandez held the Pirates to one run over eight innings on Wednesday to run his record to 5-2 and lower his ERA to 1.53. Iwakuma (3-1) silenced the Blue Jays on Saturday -- he allowed one run over seven frames -- as his ERA dipped to 1.61. He had little trouble on the mound after escaping a first-inning jam.
"You talk about big league pitching; that's big league pitching right there," said manager Eric Wedge. "To get out of that the way he did, especially early in the game, it helps to, not necessarily set the tone, but push your squad in the right direction early."
The Mariners rode Hernandez to a series-closing win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. It'll be Iwakuma's turn to toe the rubber when the A's venture to Safeco Field on Friday.
Oakland will send Dan Straily (1-0, 5.94 ERA) to the mound. Straily hasn't factored into the decision in either of his last two outings. He allowed three runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees on Sunday. The right-hander is seeking his first win since April 5, when he punched out 11 Astros while holding Houston to two runs in 6 2/3 frames.
A's: League comments on disputed call
Major League Baseball issued a statement Thursday acknowledging that an "improper" call was made in the ninth inning of Oakland's affair with Cleveland. Joe Torre, the executive vice president of baseball operations, said: "It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final."
Umpires reviewed the call in question, a double that appeared as though it should have been ruled a game-tying home run.
"It actually worried me when it took so long," said A's manager Bob Melvin before Thursday's game. "Even the group in the suite next to us, you could see them look at the replay one time and they all turned around and said, 'It's a home run.' And when I went to look at it in the video room, their announcers were saying, 'It's a home run, let's go. What's taking so long?' So that was my experience with it."
Mariners: Ackley making strides
Despite an 0-for-4 showing on Wednesday, Ackley is still batting .319 (22-for-69) over his last 19 games. During that span, he has boosted his batting average to .239 from .143.
"Considering where I started at the beginning of the year, struggling a little bit and not getting the hits, it's been great to have success of late finding some holes and doing some things right," Ackley said. "I feel good about it."
• Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who is 9-for-9 in save opportunities this season, has allowed only one run in 15 innings (0.60 ERA).
• The A's and Mariners split a four-game set in Oakland to open the season
• The A's are 13-3 against their American League West rivals, but just 5-15 against the rest of the league.