SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Felix Hernandez was in midseason form on a cool March evening in the Valley of the Sun. Hernandez retired the first 11 batters he faced and allowed just one hit while striking out five in 6.0 scoreless innings as the Mariners defeated the San Francisco Giants, 9-2, in front of 10,717 on Thursday night at Scottsdale Stadium.
In his first outing since returning from the World Baseball Classic, Hernandez did not allow a base runner through his first three innings of work, retiring the Giants on four groundball outs, four strikeouts and one fly ball in the first three frames. He set down the first two batters in the bottom of the 4th on a fly out and a strikeout before yielding a two-out double, the only Giants batter to reach against Hernandez. He finished his 3rd Cactus League start of the spring by retiring the side in order in the 5th and 6th innings.
On five hits and a walk, the Mariners plated four runs in the top of the 2nd to get out to an early 4-0 lead over the Giants. Mike Zunino led off the inning with a ground-rule double down the left field line, and Taylor Motter followed by drawing a free pass. With one out, Tyler Smith singled to bring home Zunino. A batter later, the Mariners reeled off three straight two-out, run-scoring singles, as Leonys Martin, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager each singled home a run. Martin finished 1-for-4 with 1 run and 1 RBI and is now batting .350 (7×20) with 5 runs, 2 home runs and 3 RBI over his last seven games.
The Mariners added three runs in the top of the 5th to extend their lead to 7-0, as the first five batters reached base safely. Haniger doubled to begin frame, followed by a Seager single and an RBI-single by Danny Valencia. After a walk to Zunino, Motter drove in a pair of runs with a single to left field. Zunino went 1-for-2 with a run scored and 2 walks. His 10 walks lead the club this spring.
Seattle tacked on two runs in the top of the 7th with Ben Gamel’s two-run home run to right field. Gamel’s third home run of the spring pushed the Mariners lead to 9-0. The Giants scored a run in each of the 7th and 8th innings for the final tally of 9-2, in favor of the Mariners.
Nick Hagadone allowed 1 run in the bottom of the 7th inning on 1 hit and 1 walk. Casey Fien worked 2.0 innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits, 1 walk and 2 hit batsmen.
The Mariners (16-11) return to Cactus League play for a day-night, home-road split-squad doubleheader tomorrow (March 24) with one half of the squad hosting the Kansas City Royals at 1:10 p.m. at Peoria Stadium. Right-handed pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to make his 5th start of the spring for the Mariners against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy. The game will be broadcast live in the Seattle area on 710 ESPN Seattle and the Mariners Radio Network. It will also be televised live in HD on ROOT SPORTS.
The other half of the squad will travel to face the Los Angeles Angels at 5:10 p.m. at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Left-hander Ariel Miranda will make his 5th Cactus League start, 6th appearance, for the Mariners opposite Angels right-hander Bud Norris.
MARINERS 0 4 0 0 3 0 2 0 0 – 9 12 0
GIANTS 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 – 2 4 1
W – Hernandez (2-0); L – Moore (1-2); SV – None
SEA – Hernandez, Hagadone (7), Fien (8) and Zunino, Gosewisch (7)
SF – Moore, Roth (2), Strickland (5), Reynolds (5), Gearrin (7), Osich (8), Ramirez (9) and Hundley, Garcia (6)
Home Runs – SEA: Gamel (3); SF: None
Attendance – 10,717 Time – 3:09