Padres 7, Mariners 5 at Peoria Stadium
Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez says he pays no attention to spring-training numbers.
“I’m not looking at any results,’’ he said after his last outing of the spring, a 7-5 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday at Peoria Stadium. “Just looking to be healthy, and I’m healthy.’’
Still, all things being equal, he’d rather enter the regular season with a happy final memory of the spring.
So when Mariners coaches asked him if he wanted to pitch a third inning after he had been scheduled for two, he said yes.
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And a quick 1-2-3 inning, punctuated by a strikeout of catcher Derek Norris to end it, put a shinier tint on a game that started ugly for Hernandez and the Mariners.
After getting the first out, Hernandez allowed a walk, and a double — which scored one run — and then a single. An error by first baseman Dae-Ho Lee on a slow roller brought another runner home. Norris then drove a shot just over the head of Efren Navarro in left field to bring home two more and make it 4-0.
“First inning I was up,’’ Hernandez said of his pitches. “Everything was up.’’
A quick mound meeting with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre followed, and Hernandez was pretty much back to normal from there.
He needed 31 pitches to get through the first inning. Manager Scott Servais said before the game that Hernandez likely would pitch just two innings.
But after a quiet second in which he allowed a lone single, he went out for the third, ending it with a swinging strikeout of Norris on a changeup.
“It was good to get some quick outs,’’ Hernandez said.
The game started at noon –- an hour earlier than the usual first pitch time — and Servais said Hernandez later joked that was the issue.
“He said he couldn’t get the ball down until 1 o’clock, so we were keeping him out there until 1 o’clock,’’ Servais said. “He wasn’t real sharp the first inning but much better the second and third innings.’’
He finished with 60 pitches, 39 for strikes, and pronounced himself ready for the season opener at Texas on Monday. He said this spring was better than a year ago when he was 0-3 with a 10.22 ERA. Hernandez finished this spring 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA.
“I’m healthy, that’s the most important thing,’’ Hernandez said. “Throw the pitches you need to throw, get done. I’m ready.’’
*** Mike Montgomery had a key inning of relief in the fifth, allowing one hit (with the base runner erased trying to get to second thanks to a nice throw from Nelson Cruz) and striking out one. Montgomery had pitched Tuesday night, and the team wanted to see how he would respond to working on consecutive days as he attempts to make the move from starter to reliever — he is slated to be one of two left-handers in the bullpen on opening day.
“Really good,’’ Servais said. “Really liked what I saw today. The big thing was to get him in his mind going back-to-back days, and he had good stuff both days, so really good to see that.’’
*** Tony Zych was a little shakier, giving up three hits and two earned runs in two innings. The runs came in the second inning he worked, and Servais said he’s not likely to have to pitch more than an inning often.
“Tony’s going to be there,’’ Servais said. “His stuff is fine. It’s about being consistent and executing his pitches. When he’s missed his spot, they have hit it. He feels good. He’s healthy.’’
*** There weren’t a lot of offensive highlights, as the Mariners were kept somewhat in check for a second consecutive day. Daniel Robertson had two hits, including a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth that made things momentarily interesting.
But Seattle had just three hits through seven innings.
***Shortstop Ketel Marte extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the eighth.
*** Servais said newly acquired reliever Nick Vincent likely will pitch an inning Thursday in a minor-league game that is scheduled to be started by Hisashi Iwakuma.
*** The team’s top pick in the 2014 draft, Alex Jackson, got an at-bat in the eighth. After falling behind 1-2 he hit a dribbler back the mound for a groundout. He’s 0 for 3 in major-league games for the spring.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Kemp went 2 for 3 for the Padres, including a solidly struck double in the first inning off Hernandez that drove in the Padres’ first run in a four-run first inning.
“He’s got a pretty good track record in the big leagues. Multiple pitches but primarily a cut fastball. Got a chance to sit down with him after he grabbed his bag and he walked across the parking lot. He’s excited and we’re eager to see him out there,” Servais on reliever Nick Vincent, who the team aquired in a trade with San Diego — which trains at the same facility — earlier in the day.
The Mariners are off Thursday, though Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to pitch in a minor-league game to keep him on his regular schedule. The Mariners will next play Friday against Colorado. Wade Miley will get the start in a game that will begin at 7:10 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN 710 Seattle and telecast live on Root Sports.