On the first day when departures to the World Baseball Classic gutted their lineup, the Mariners were forced to split their remaining roster Sunday to play a pair of games.
They responded by calling up 25 players from minor-league minicamp and lost both games.
It wasn’t all bad.
Felix Hernandez got better as he worked through his three innings against Oakland at Peoria Stadium. He gave up two runs but departed with the lead before Oakland rallied for a 5-4 victory.
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The Mariners’ other squad lost 7-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale.
Kyle Waldrop’s three-run homer gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning, but three infield errors by call-ups allowed Los Angeles to score five unearned runs.
The Mariners dropped to 6-4 and, while they’ll need get used to playing without many of their top players, they don’t have another split-squad date until March 19. By then, at least some of the WBC players should be back.
Hernandez started and ended his first inning with strikeouts. In-between, he gave up two runs on three hits. Ryon Healy had a two-out RBI double past third, and Mark Canha followed with an RBI single to center.
"It was good," said Hernandez, who six of seven batters in the final two innings. "The first inning was a little rough, but after that, it as fine. The last inning was real good."
The Mariners got one run back in the second when Boog Powell tripled to right and scored on Shawn O’Malley’s ground out.
Doubles in the third inning by Guillermo Heredia and Dan Vogelbach tied the game before the Mariners took the lead on Chooch Ruiz’s RBI single into the left-field corner.
Oakland regained the lead at 4-3 by scoring two runs in the fifth inning against newcomer Chase De Jong. The Athletics added another run in the eighth inning against Thyago Vieira.
D.J. Peterson’s leadoff homer later in the eighth pulled the Mariners to within 5-4, but they got no closer.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The good and the bad.
Second baseman Mike Freeman saved a run for Hernandez by making a diving stop on Alejandro De Aza’s sharp two-out hopper headed through the first-second hole in the second inning.
Freeman got to his feet in time to get the out at first. A single would have scored a runner from second.
As good as that play was, Freeman let a routine two-out grounder go through his legs in the fourth inning that permitted a run to score.
PLUS: Closer Edwin Diaz worked a one-two-three inning against the Dodgers in his final tuneup before joining Puerto Rico in the WBC…Vogelbach had two hits in three at-bats and is 7-for-20…Powell was 2-for-3 with a triple is is 8-for-13…Andrew Moore started against the Dodgers and pitched two scoreless innings.
MINUS: A rough first inning for De Jong, who gave up two runs in the fifth — although it wasn’t all his fault. There was a one-out triple when Powell tried for a diving catch on a sinking liner to left field. Freeman’s error permitted the other run…Kyle Seager and Leonys Martin were each 0-for-3 against Oakland…Jarrod Dyson as 0-for-3 against the Dodgers…Vieira had three walks in a 32-pitch eighth inning against Oakland but stranded three runners.
SPRING BATTLES: Outfielder Ben Gamel was 0-2 against the Dodgers, while Heredia had a double and a walk in three plate appearances against the Athletics. Gamel is 5-for-21 overall, while Heredia is is 8-for 15 with two walks for a .588 on-base percentage…lefty reliever James Pazos worked around a one-out single against the Athletics by recording back-to-back strikeouts. He has three scoreless one-inning appearances…reliever Casey Fien pitched a one-two-three ninth against the Athletics.
QUOTABLE: Hernandez departed after the game to join Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic. He is scheduled to start his nation’s tournament opener on Friday against Puerto Rico in Jalisco, Mexico.
"It’s really important to give Venezuela a victory," he said, "after everything that is happening (in the country) and the situation being so bad. A win for Venezuela will be meaningful."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners will play a "B" game Monday morning against San Diego in order to get work for some pitchers. Right-hander Rob Whalen is scheduled to start and work two innings. Also scheduled: Dan Altavilla, Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Vincent, Shae Simmons and Peter Tago.
UP NEXT: Lefty Drew Smyly looks to build on a strong spring debut at 12:10 p.m. Pacific time Monday when he faces American League West-rival Texas at Peoria Stadium.
Smyly is slotted for three inning. He pitched two scoreless innings last Wednesday against Cleveland in Goodyear. Also scheduled: Max Povse (2-3), Cody Martin (2-3), Nick Hagadone and Jean Machi.
Texas plans to start right-hander A.J. Griffin. The game will be shown on Root Sports Northwest and broadcast on 710 ESPN and mariners.com.
DAYS LEFT UNTIL OPENING DAY: 28
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners