Felix finds his groove in second spring start

Mariners ace adjusts after shaky first inning vs. D-backs

Felix finds his groove in second spring start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was an ominous start Saturday for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who found himself in a bit of a pickle before breaking a sweat.

One pitch into the game -- a 4-2 loss to the D-backs -- the D-backs had a runner on first base, after Socrates Brito singled on the first pitch he saw.

One pitch later, Brito scooted to second base as Hernandez threw the ball away on an errant pickoff attempt to first base.

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But it got better from there.

Hernandez allowed one run on three hits over four innings, walking one with four strikeouts in his longest start of spring. He threw 57 pitches, 38 for strikes.

"I feel really good," Hernandez said after.

The D-backs seemed intent on jumping on pitches early in the count, which led to two baserunners in each of the first two innings.

"It's Spring Training and they do that during the season to me," Hernandez said. "The first two innings, they were jumping on the fastball and I was just trying to make good pitches after that."

Hernandez, the team's Opening Day starter, struck out Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings in the third inning and then got Brett Haynes looking at a called third strike on a curveball in the fourth inning.

The D-backs got their run off Hernandez in the second inning when Evan Marzilli grounded out to Robinson Cano at second base, allowing Peter O'Brien to score. O'Brien singled with one out and moved to third base on double by Hayes.

"His changeup [was] maybe not quite as good as it was the last time out, but the breaking ball and feel [for pitches], everything was there," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "I thought his stuff was really good."

In his first Cactus League start on March 14 against Colorado, Hernandez showed a little rust, especially in terms of fastball command. He allowed three runs on six hits in 2 1/3 innings.

On Saturday, and after a slow start, Hernandez felt more like himself.

"I was able to locate my fastball the last two innings to both sides of the plate, good curveball, good changeup," he said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.