Mariners send Fernandez to face Giants’ Cueto
OAKLAND, Calif. — Felix Hernandez and Johnny Cueto will go head-to-head for the first time in their illustrious careers Wednesday afternoon when the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants conclude a two-game interleague series.
The Mariners got the jump in the rare duel of West Coast rivals, using a four-run first inning to build a 6-4 victory in the Giants’ home opener Tuesday.
More of a pitchers’ duel can be expected Wednesday as neither Hernandez nor Cueto allowed a run in their first starts of the season.
Hernandez (1-0, 0.00) got the call on Opening Day for Seattle and shut out the Cleveland Indians on two hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 2-1 win. He walked two and struck out four.
He has faced the Giants four times in his career, but never in San Francisco. He’s gone 3-0 in the four starts with a 1.86 ERA.
Hernandez will be pitching in the 27th different ballpark of his 376-start career.
Cueto, meanwhile, has faced the Mariners just twice in his career, never as a member of the Giants. He’s gone 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA.
Cueto (0-0, 0.00) was even better than Hernandez in his first start, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He wound up pitching seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit, but got a no-decision in a game that was scoreless into the ninth inning before Joe Panik homered for a 1-0 Giants win.
Panik etched his name into major league lore Tuesday when he provided San Francisco’s first run of the game with a solo home run. It was just the Giants’ third run in their first five games, all of which were the product of solo homers by Panik.
That had never been done previously to start a season.
Cueto catches a break Wednesday in that the Mariners not only won’t have their designated hitter, Nelson Cruz, but won’t have a DH at all in the National League park.
Cruz was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to Sunday. He sprained his right ankle in Saturday’s home game against Cleveland, slipping on a dugout step.
“I’m very confident he’ll be back in 10 days,” Seattle manager Scott Servais announced, downplaying the severity of the injury. “He’s not going to be playing defense (when he returns), so it’s just a matter of being comfortable with a bat in his hands and being able to get down to first base.”
The Mariners already were missing 25-homer catcher Mike Zunino, out with an oblique strain. Seattle’s catchers have combined to go 1-for-13 in the club’s first four games.
The Mariners didn’t need a power-hitting catcher or a DH in order to pile up 12 hits in Tuesday’s win. Dee Gordon and Jean Segura had three hits apiece from atop the lineup, accounting for half the Seattle total, against a San Francisco staff that already had two shutouts this season.
Evan Longoria homered in his home debut for the Giants, but manager Bruce Bochy hinted that the newcomer might begin the series finale on the bench so that Pablo Sandoval could make his first start of the season.
Sandoval has two career home runs against Hernandez in eight at-bats.
“I’ve got to get Pablo a start here soon,” Bochy said. “With the days off (Monday and Thursday), we don’t want these extra guys to be off too long. You can’t keep them out for two weeks, then expect them to produce.”