For a first spring start, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was workmanlike Tuesday afternoon in an 8-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
Two innings, three hits, one run, one walk and two double-play grounders. Meh. He’ll get one more start, Sunday vs. Oakland, before departing to join Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
"I’ve got to get command of my fastball a little bit more," he said, "the four-seamer and the two-seamer. I fell behind a couple of times in the second inning, and I got hit.
"The next one is going to be different. I’ll need to throw a little more pitches and be ready for my first start in Mexico."
The Mariners, meanwhile, jumped all over Michael Kopech, the fireballing right-hander the White Sox got from Boston in the trade for All-Star lefty Chris Sale.
Kopech lasted just one inning and gave up four runs: an RBI double to Nelson Cruz and a three-run homer to Mitch Haniger.
"It’s nice to see Haniger get going," manager Scott Servais said. "He was a little slow to get going the last few days. A good day for him. He needed it."
The Mariners (3-1) added three more runs in the second inning against Chris Beck. Guillermo Heredia tripled and scored on a throwing error.
Jean Segura, after a single, then scored from first on a Robinson Cano singles, and Dan Vogelbach had an RBI double.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Haniger’s three-run blast in the first inning against Kopech was just that — a blast that landed deep beyond the left-field wall. What made it more impressive was he adjusted down to a slider after falling behind 0-2 on upper-90s fastballs.
PLUS: Heredia and Segura showed impressive speed on the bases in the three-run second inning. Segura scored from first on a single, although he was running on the play…Segura went 2-for-3 and is 6-for-8 in three spring games.
MINUS: Third-base coach Manny Acta tried to score Cruz from first base on Vogelbach’s two-out double in the second inning. The White Sox made a clean relay and Cruz, who appeared on fumes after rounding third was an easy out…catcher Carlos Ruiz was hitless in three at-bats.
STAT PACK: The Mariners were 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position…Chicago had just three hits in seven innings against the five relievers who followed Hernandez.
SPRING BATTLES: Utilityman Shawn O’Malley started at third base and went 2-for-3 with an RBI. He is 5-for-11 in three games…lefty reliever James Pazos had his second scoreless one-inning appearance…Heredia went 2-for-3 with two runs. He is 5-for-8 overall…reliever Jean Machi wobbled through a scoreless ninth inning after yielding a double and two walks.
QUOTABLE: "I’m trying to get synched up right," said Haniger, who had a single in addition to his homer in three at-bats. "Just trying to hit the ball hard. I think today felt a lot better. I’m making progress."
SHORT HOPS: Two of the organization’s better pitching prospects, right-handers Andrew Moore and Dylan Unsworth, each pitch two scoreless innings…first baseman D.J. Peterson is slowed by a minor leg injury but should be available later in the week…
UP NEXT: The Mariners make the first of two spring trips to Goodyear on Wednesday when they meet American League champion Cleveland at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time.
The game can be heard on 710 ESPN and www.Mariners.com but will not be televised by Root Sports Northwest.
Lefty Drew Smyly will make his spring debut and his first appearance in a Mariners uniform when he faces Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer.
Closer Edwin Diaz and setup reliever Evan Scribner are also slotted for their first spring action. Others expected to pitch: Max Povse, Thyago Vieira and Peter Tago.
DAYS LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY: 33
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners