PEORIA, Ariz. - Felix Hernandez is ready for the season - and thinks the Seattle Mariners are close behind him.
“After I pitch last time, I said I needed one good game to be ready,” Hernandez said Tuesday. “Today was good. Today was it. I’m ready.”
Against the Chicago White Sox, Hernandez pitched five innings, allowed two runs but didn’t walk a batter and struck out five – including Adam Dunn on a changeup that had him muttering.
“How the (expletive) am I supposed to hit that (expletive) pitch?” Dunn said, with more puzzlement than anger.
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Manager Eric Wedge said it wasn’t an easy game, which he liked.
“Felix had to work in the early innings, and he did and got better as he went on,” Wedge said. “He had great stuff. He looked good.”
A quick scouting report on the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner?
“The sinker was perfect, the slider much better than last time,” Hernandez said. “I had a good changeup. I threw everything for strikes after the second inning.
“I was falling behind hitters in the second, and I was saying, ‘C’mon, throw strikes!’ I was much better when I stopped thinking after that.”
Hernandez didn’t get a decision in Seattle’s 9-5 victory and has one win in an exhibition season that has seen the Mariners go 13-7-1. The record hardly matters, but he’s seen a different Mariners team.
“The team gives a good effort, they score runs,” Hernandez said. “We’re going to be better this year.”
The Mariners piled up runs without home runs, using 11 hits – four of those doubles – to push home nine runs. Chone Figgins and Matt Tuiasosopo each had a pair of RBI, and Milton Bradley picked up his team-leading 10th RBI of the spring.
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Jack Wilson is batting .419, Adam Moore .381, Figgins .361, Bradley .355, Ryan Langerhans .333, Tuiasosopo .320.
What do they mean? Nothing, unless you consider the approach they and other Mariners are taking at the plate.
“We’re having good at-bats,” Langerhans said.
“We’re having a good approach at the plate, getting into hitters’ counts and making the pitcher work,” Wedge said. “We’re going to need to score runs in a lot of ways, but putting together good at-bats is important.”
Wedge used Moore as an example.
“His batting practice has been tremendous, and then he’s carrying it into the game, giving us a great at-bat,” Wedge said. “Reviewing video from last season, I saw him do that in Triple-A, but not in the major leagues.
“Now, we’re seeing it translate.”
“We’re going to be a lot better,” Felix said.
KEEPING IT CLOSE
The Mariners have outscored their opponents by 17 runs in 21 games.
Last spring, in 32 games, Seattle was outscored by 29 runs.
When Figgins singled home two runs in the fourth inning, it extended his spring hitting streak to eight games. During that run, he’s 10-for-21 (.476). ... Rookie right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who tends bar in the offseason, continued a strong bid for what would be an unexpected spot in the Seattle bullpen. Wilhelmsen struck out the side in the seventh inning, topping out at 96 mph. In six spring appearances – covering seven innings – Wilhelmsen has struck out eight and walked four. ... No Mariner had more than one hit Tuesday. ... Figgins stole his team-leading fourth base. ... Entering the ninth inning with a seven-run lead, Chris Ray needed 26 pitches to get three outs, and allowed Chicago two runs.
Seattle plays Colorado at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, a 6:40 p.m. game that will be televised on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Luke French vs. Jorge De La Rosa.