Rockies 5, Mariners 4

The pact went something like this: No nasty pitches to each

other.

Before the game, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez promised his

counterpart, Rockies top hurler Ubaldo Jimenez, he wouldn’t throw

anything too unhittable when Jimenez was at the plate. Jimenez

readily agreed.

Yet they struck each other out in Colorado’s 5-4 win over the

Mariners on Sunday.

With these two, every pitch is filthy.

Hernandez, making his spring debut, was equal parts shaky and

sharp as he allowed four hits over 2 2-3 innings.

Not to be outdone, Jimenez turned in a stellar showing, allowing

one hit in four innings.

“Two of the best pitchers in baseball,” Mariners coach Don

Wakamatsu said. “Tremendous arms. I have a lot of respect for

them.”

After this game, the two aces have respect for each other.

Hernandez threw a two-seam fastball to Jimenez that had Jimenez

shaking his head in amazement.

Later, Jimenez returned the favor, tossing a sinker that tied up

Hernandez.

“He threw hard,” Hernandez said of his rival on the mound.

“The guy is good.”

This spring, the Mariners have been slowly bringing along

Hernandez, who won 19 games last year and finished second in AL Cy

Young Award voting.

Before Sunday, Hernandez had thrown just two simulated games. He

was on a 50-pitch count against Colorado, but went three over as

Wakamatsu allowed him to throw into the third.

Hernandez was able to work his way out of trouble in the second

after giving up two straight singles to Melvin Mora and Chris

Iannetta. He struck out Clint Barmes and Jimenez, before walking

Dexter Fowler. He then made one of his better pitches of the day,

getting Seth Smith to ground out to end the threat.

He dodged a close call in the third when he was nearly hit by

Troy Tulowitzki’s wobbling liner up the middle. Hernandez was able

to fall to the ground and avoid the ball.

“Right at me. Kind of crazy,” said Hernandez, who signed a

five-year, $78 million contract in January.

After the game, Hernandez described his outing as simply,

“OK.”

His coach was more forthcoming.

“Good first outing,” Wakamatsu said. “I saw some real good

qualities pitches.”

Jimenez had his best command of the spring, allowing only a

single to Matt Tuiasosopo.

“I felt good. I was locating my fastball and getting ahead of

hitters,” said Jimenez, who will start the Rockies’ opener April 5

in Milwaukee.

In facing Hernandez, Todd Helton may have picked the wrong day

to make his Cactus League debut. Helton walked and grounded out

against the hard-throwing righty.

Any qualms about starting against a hurler the caliber of

Hernandez?

“Nah, start from the top and work my way down,” said the

36-year-old Helton, who recently signed a two-year extension that

likely assures he remains in a Rockies uniform the rest of his

career. “I hope it helps me later in the season.”

Adam Moore had a nice souvenir from the game – a couple of

stitches in his chin. That came courtesy of a clumsy slide into

third late in the game. He said he stumbled in the dirt, leading to

the face plant.

“Beautiful,” he said.

Moore also got to catch Hernandez for the first time outside of

a bullpen session.

“The look in his eyes, you could tell he was hungry and ready

to get after it,” Moore said. “It felt like opening day with him

out there. It was a lot of fun catching him.”

NOTES: Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells was in charge Sunday

after manager Jim Tracy accompanied the split squad to Hermosillo,

Mexico, to face Arizona. The Rockies lost that game, 8-7. … The

plan is for Rob Johnson to catch Cliff Lee on Monday against

Arizona. Johnson had offseason hip and wrist surgery. … Ryan

Harvey hit a three-run homer in the seventh for Colorado.