After rough 1st, Felix finishes spring finale strong
By Greg Johns
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez gave up four runs and four hits in three innings in a 7-5 Cactus League loss to the Padres in his final spring outing Wednesday, but the Mariners ace says he'll be ready to roll for his ninth Opening Day start when Seattle kicks off its regular season on Monday in Texas.
Tyson Ross warmed up for his inaugural Opening Day start as he threw three innings of one-run ball for the Padres in their Cactus League finale as they now head to El Paso, Texas, to face their Triple-A club in a Thursday exhibition. Ross will start April 4 against the Dodgers at Petco Park.
"I felt good for three innings," said Ross, who allowed just two hits and struck out four while lowering his spring ERA to 7.71. "It was nice to work with [catcher Derek Norris] again, get on the same page, just kind of work on some sequences and have a good result to end my 2016 spring."
Hernandez has been through this routine many times and said he doesn't worry much about results in Arizona, just staying healthy and getting his pitches in. But he did ask for an extra inning of work in his final abbreviated tuneup after struggling with his control in the first frame when he allowed all four runs (three earned) on three hits.
"The first inning, everything was up," Hernandez said. "After that, I fixed everything and it was good. I was just trying to keep the ball down in the strike zone and we made some quick outs."
Hernandez issued a one-out walk in the first to Cory Spangenberg, who scored on a double to left-center by Matt Kemp. After Wil Myers singled to put runners at the corners, the Padres got a break when Seattle first baseman Dae-Ho Lee couldn't handle a high hopper by Yangervis Solarte as Kemp scored from third.
Norris then drove a two-run double just past the outstretched glove of left fielder Efren Navarro and Hernandez -- who'd pitched six shutout innings his previous outing against the White Sox -- was down 4-0 with just one out.
But Hernandez retired eight of the final nine batters he faced and finished his spring with a 4.11 ERA in four Cactus League starts. The 29-year-old often struggles in spring, but is 6-0 with a 1.49 ERA in his eight Opening Day starts.
"I'm not looking at results," said Hernandez. "I just want to be healthy and ready for April 4."
Kemp went 2-for-3 and is hitting .400 (20-for-50) on the spring, while Norris also had a two-hit day for the Padres, while Adam Rosales added a two-run homer in the seventh off Mariners reliever Tony Zych.
Padres right-hander Brandon Morrow, working back from offseason shoulder surgery, allowed just one hit and one run in three innings of relief while striking out six.
Up next for the Padres: The Padres travel to El Paso to face their Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas on Thursday at 5:35 p.m. PT. Robbie Erlin gets the ball for San Diego, as he continues his quest to win a spot at the back end of the rotation. Erlin's 2.25 ERA is the lowest of any Padres starter this spring. Meanwhile, Carlos Pimentel gets the ball for El Paso.
Up next for Mariners: While the rest of the club has an off-day Thursday, right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will pitch two innings against the Padres' Double-A team at a backfield at the Peoria Sports Complex in his final spring tuneup. The Mariners resume Cactus League play Friday with Wade Miley on the mound in a 7:10 p.m. PT game against the Rockies at Peoria Stadium.