King Felix whiffs 9 as Mariners beat Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Felix Hernandez has one more tuneup to go. His latest one was right on the money.
Hernandez looked primed and ready for the regular season, pitching six shutout innings to help the Seattle Mariners beat the San Diego Padres 3-1 on Friday night.
The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed two hits and struck out nine — including six straight in the third and fourth innings. He threw 70 pitches and didn’t walk a batter.
“Everything felt right,” Hernandez said. “I had pretty good stuff today.”
That might be an understatement. Hernandez’s fastball command was spot-on and all his pitches had excellent movement. He was so good that the Padres’ home crowd gave him a standing ovation at the spring training complex San Diego shares with Seattle.
“I’m getting more and more comfortable with every start,” Hernandez said. “I’m continuing to get ready for the regular season, and tonight everything came together.”
Hernandez has one spring start left before getting the ball on opening day in Oakland. He’ll elevate his pitch count to roughly 90 in his final outing.
The right-hander signed a $175 million, seven-year contract last month, the largest deal for a pitcher in baseball history.
Padres starter Tyson Ross was effective early, but inefficiency cut his outing short. He gave up only one run but was pulled after throwing 94 pitches in 4 2-3 innings.
Ross, competing with Andrew Cashner for the No. 5 spot in San Diego’s rotation, had six strikeouts and two walks.
Kelly Shoppach homered to right field leading off the fifth for Seattle, snapping Ross’ scoreless streak at 15 1-3 innings, which dated to Feb. 28.
“He was a little spotty on the ball-to-strike ratio,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Throwing 94 times in 4 2-3 is not ideal, but we saw some strides being made. He’s implemented the mechanical changes we’ve asked and he’s improving.”
San Diego’s health is not improving as fast as Black would like. Left fielder Carlos Quentin (knee) and infielder Logan Forsythe (plantar fasciitis) remain out with injuries. There is no timetable for either player’s return, and Black said before the game it was possible both could start the season on the disabled list.
“We’ll see what happens over the next handful of days, but there’s no doubt we have to see some things for us to feel good about putting them on the opening-day roster,” he explained.
Playing meaningful games without either player would be a blow. Quentin is a proven power hitter and Forsythe was expected to replace third baseman Chase Headley, out four to six weeks with a broken thumb.
Yonder Alonso went deep for the Padres, his fourth home run in his last eight games.
NOTES: Mariners RHP John Garland exercised an out-clause in his contract to leave the team. Garland was able to do so because he wasn’t guaranteed to be in Seattle’s starting rotation. Many veteran non-roster invitees have out-clauses in their contracts. “It’s strange to have it come so early, but I understand why he has it,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “I’m sure he’ll draw plenty of interest from other teams.” Garland was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four spring starts. … Padres RHP Edinson Volquez threw two innings in a minor league game, his first outing since returning from the World Baseball Classic. He threw 29 pitches and struck out three. Volquez will throw a bullpen session Sunday before assuming a regular-season rest schedule. He is a leading candidate to be the team’s opening-day starter. Black has yet to name one. … RHPs Thad Weber and Daniel Stange and C Eddy Rodriguez were reassigned to minor league camp.