THE FACTS: Felix Hernandez closed his spring Tuesday with a thud by allowing seven runs and five hits in 1 2/3 innings against Cleveland in Goodyear. That makes 14 runs and 13 hits in 12 1/3 innings over four starts.
Next outing: Monday in the season opener against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field. Hernandez is 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in seven career starts on opening day. That guy was nowhere in sight Tuesday.
“Mechanically was the problem,” Hernandez said. “I was up. I was up the entire game…I was flying open. I was falling down. I was not able to get my balance.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon attributed Hernandez’s problem to a flawed workout routine.
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“The trainers will tell you that his workout, for some reason, didn’t coincide with his start,” McClendon said. “He did too much on his legs. He didn’t have his legs out there. There was no gathering or turning.”
Hernandez’s problems came after the Mariners staked him to an early lead.
Rickie Weeks opened the game with a homer to center. Robinson Cano lined a one-out double that hopped the center-field wall, and Nelson Cruz followed with a two-run bomb to center. That quickly, it was 3-0.
Hernandez gave it all back, and more, in the bottom of the inning. Two singles, a walk and a Brandon Moss homer produced four runs. After the Mariners tied the game in the second, Hernandez gave up three more runs.
PLAY OF THE GAME: McClendon was ejected in the fourth inning by umpire Alan Porter after protesting what he viewed as Porter’s lack of action after Indians starter Bruce Chen threw two pitches behind Weeks.
Chen’s pitches were in apparent retaliation for Hernandez hitting Michael Brantley in the second inning.
Porter issued a warning to Chen after the second pitch. McClendon’s argument was the first pitch should have prompted the warning; and that even if it didn’t, the second one should have cause Chen to be ejected.
Instead, it was McClendon who got ejected.
PLUS: Weeks and Cruz hit homers…Cano, Cruz and Austin Jackson each had two hits…Tom Wilhelmsen worked 1 1/2 scoreless innings…rookie lefty Tyler Olson pitched two more scoreless innings. He had not allowed an earned run in 12 2/3 innings in 10 outings.
MINUS: Other than Hernandez?…Weeks played first base for the first time and mishandled his first chance, a grounder by Carlos Santana in the first inning. Weeks recovered and recorded the out, but a runner scored from third.
QUOTABLE: Asked whether he had any concerns regarding Hernandez’s outing, McClendon said, “I have no concerns at all.”
EXTRA INNINGS: The loss dropped the Mariners to 11-16-2 and, with just three games remaining, clinched their first losing Cactus League record since going 12-18-2 in 2010. They were 18-12-3 in 2014.
UP NEXT: The Mariners play the Chicago White Sox at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday in their final day game at Peoria Stadium. James Paxton will start against veteran right-hander Brad Penny.
After an open date Thursday, the Mariners conclude their spring schedule with two games against Colorado: 7:05 p.m. Friday night at Peoria Stadium, and 12:05 p.m. Saturday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.