Three weeks from now, it counts. But Felix Hernandez could look at his spring debut Monday and shrug off his suspect numbers in a 6-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Peoria Stadium in Peoria, Ariz.
“I’ve got to work a few more games,” he said, “and then I’ll be ready for April 4 (in the season opener at Texas).”
The Mariners also played Arizona at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale and, while they cuffed Zack Greinke, that ended in an 8-3 loss. Taijuan Walker wasn’t particularly sharp: four runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Most of the attention, though, focused on Hernandez, who gave up three runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out five, walked one and threw 37 of his 50 pitches for strikes.
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“The ball was coming out of his hand good,” manager Scott Servais said. “All of his pitches were there. He got a couple of fastballs up, and they were aggressive early in the count. But he’s healthy.”
Right now, that’s good enough.
Hernandez gave up a one-out triple in the first inning to Trevor Story, but had a chance to escape after striking out Raimel Tapia. A two-out wild pitch scored the run — really wild, too; the ball went behind the batter.
“That’s an Arizona cutter,” catcher Chris Iannetta said. “The dry air, the ball just takes off sometimes. It happens.”
The wild pitch was the only ball among the 11 pitches that Hernandez threw in the first inning.
Hernandez yielded a leadoff double to Ryan Raburn in the second. Raburn moved to third on Cristhian Adames’ one-out bunt single. This time, Hernandez escaped by striking out the next two batters.
The Rockies knocked out Hernandez in the third: A single, walk and a bunt single loaded the bases with no outs. Hernandez struck out Ben Paulsen, but Raburn pulled a two-run single to left.
That was it, although Adrian Sampson prevented further damage by getting a double play.
The Mariners rallied against the Rockies but never got even. Adam Lind and Franklin Gutierrez hit back-to-back homers in the sixth. Lind also had an RBI double in a two-run fourth.
Against Arizona, the Mariners (7-8) took a brief lead when Kyle Seager’s two-run homer highlighted a three-run third inning against Greinke.
The Diamondbacks answered with two runs in the fourth against Walker and clubbed Dylan Unsworth, a call-up from minor-league camp, for four late runs.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Boog Powell started in left field against the Rockies and made an over-the-shoulder catch near the wall on Cristhian Adames’ leadoff drive in the fourth inning.
“He can really cover some ground,” Servais said. “I don’t know how he caught that thing. It’s tough to play outfield down here as bright and windy as it is.”
PLUS: Lind is heating up. He had an RBI double and a homer against the Rockies. … Lefty reliever David Rollins aided his long-shot roster bid by pitching two scoreless innings against Arizona. … Gutierrez had a homer and a single in three at-bats against Colorado. His spring average is up to .462 (6-for-13)…Luis Sardinas is also batting .462 in twice as many at-bats (12-for-26) after going 2-for-3 against Arizona.
MINUS: Chris Taylor remains a work in progress at third base. The Rockies easily beat out two bunts up the third-base line. … Robinson Cano paid for his typically slow trot from the batter’s box when his liner kicked off the glove of Colorado second baseman Zach Osborne in the eighth inning. Osborne chased down the ball and made a throw that beat Cano to first base.
STAT PACK: The Mariners entered the day at plus-9 on their defensive shifts: 16 that worked; seven that didn’t. … Nelson Cruz drew two walks in four plate appearances, but his hitless spring is now up to 0-for-15.
QUOTABLE: “He had good command of his fastball,” Iannetta said when asked about Hernandez’s performance.
“It’s just spring training. You can’t set guys up. Guys don’t really go up there with a plan. They’re just swinging.”
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners summoned 31 players from minor-league camp for the split-squad doubleheader — 16 for the game against Colorado in Peoria; 15 for the game against Arizona in Scottsdale.
UP NEXT: The Mariners make their one trip to Tempe at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday for a game against division-rival Los Angeles. Root Sports isn’t televising the game, but it can be seen on the MLB.TV subscription package.
Right-hander Cody Martin will draw the start because the Mariners want to limit the Angels’ exposure to lefty Wade Miley, who will pitch instead against minor-leaguers on a back field.
Los Angeles plans to start lefty Andrew Heaney.
The Mariners acquired Martin, 26, from Oakland in an Oct. 19, 2015 waiver claim. He is likely to open the season in the rotation at Triple-A Tacoma.