PEORIA, Ariz. — Felix Hernandez felt so good Saturday night in pitching his slotted four innings against an Arizona split squad that he asked Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. about going out for the fifth.
Stottlemyre responded: "You threw two innings and a third (in your previous start), and now you want to go five? No. The Red Bull is talking. Not you."
That’s how Hernandez recalled the conversation, anyway. So he stopped at four innings, after giving up one run and three hits. He also walked one and struck out four while throwing 38 of 57 pitches for strikes.
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"That one was pretty good," he said. "The first two innings, they were jumping my fastball. I was able to locate my fastball the last two innings to both sides of the plate, and I had a good curveball and a good change-up."
Arizona rallied for a 4-2 victory against two bullpen candidates.
Lefty Mike Montgomery permitted the tying run to score in the fifth inning after yielding a one-out triple to Socrates Brito. Right-hander Blake Parker gave up a two-run triple to Evan Marzilli with two outs in the sixth.
"I thought Montgomery threw the ball really well," manager Scott Servais said. "He’s just got to get accustomed to that role and how he’s going to attack left-handed hitters.
"Parker wasn’t quite as sharp tonight. He had a tough time finishing."
The Mariners (9-10-2) earlier suffered a 5-4 loss to a Kansas City split squad in Surprise when the Royals rallied for four runs in the eighth inning.
Hernandez pitched out of a first-and-third jam in the first inning but gave up one run in the second after the Diamondbacks put runners at second and third with one out on a single by Peter O’Brien and a double by Brett Hayes.
O’Brien scored on Evan Marzilli’s sharp grounder to second.
The Mariners answered later in the inning after one-out singles by Adam Lind and Steve Clevenger put runners at first and third. Efren Navarro’s slow hopper to pitcher Tyler Wagner scored Lind.
Navarro pulled a homer into the right-field bullpen with two outs in the fourth inning for a 2-1 lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Second baseman Robinson Cano showed quickness in ranging to his right to gather in a sharp grounder by Zach Borenstein to start the second inning.
Last year’s Cano doesn’t come close to making that play.
PLUS: Adam Lind returned to the lineup after missing four days because of the flu. He lined a single in his first at-bat…Leonys Martin is 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts after swiping second in the third inning.
MINUS: Reliever Blake Parker was one out away from a sixth scoreless outing before yielding a two-out triple in the sixth to Socrates Brito. When Parker walked the next hitter, the Mariners went to the bullpen…third baseman Ed Lucas dropped a Jake Lamb liner for an error in the third inning…Nelson Cruz was hitless in four at-bats, which dropped his average to .080 (2-for-25).
STAT PACK: The Mariners, in their "control the zone" mantra, are closely tracking the strikeout-and-walk rates for both pitchers and hitters. They are at plus-33 after 21 games.
They track the number by combining the totals. The hitters had 139 strikeouts and 68 walks for a net minus-71. The pitchers had 156 strikeouts and 52 walks for a net plus-104.
Combine the totals and get a net plus-33.
Servais said the goal is to end the regular season with a plus number and noted the Mariners had, in their 39 previous seasons, only once posted a winning record without a plus number in combined strikeouts and walks.
QUOTABLE: Question to Felix Hernandez: Are you going to keep the blond hair?
SHORT HOPS: When Franklin Gutierrez was scratched because of the flu, the Mariners compensated by putting Nelson Cruz in right field and using Dario Pizzano as the designated hitter. Pizzano also played in the afternoon game against Kansas City in Surprise…The attendance of 11,319 was the largest of the spring at the Peoria Sports Complex.
UP NEXT: The Mariners follow up their long Saturday by playing Cleveland at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Peoria Stadium.
Lefty Wade Miley is scheduled for a five-inning start with Mayckol Guaipe, David Rollins and Steve Cishek also tentatively scheduled to pitch.
The Indians list left-hander T.J. House as their starter.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners