PEORIA, Ariz. – Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu called a rare spring training team meeting before Saturday’s game with Arizona.
The reason? The Mariners had lost six games in a row and looked bad doing it. The timing? Felix Hernandez was on the mound for the Mariners.
After a week of pitching injuries and poor performances for Seattle, the Mariners ace tossed five scoreless innings, and Franklin Guiterrez and Ryan Langerhans each hit their first home runs of the spring off Dan Haren in a 4-0 victory over the Diamondbacks.
“(Ken Griffey Jr.) was ragging me today and saying the only reason I had the meeting was because Felix was pitching,” Wakamatsu said. “I learned last year not to do it on a day he wasn’t pitching. Six losses in a row … it was time.”
Corey Patterson added his second homer for Seattle, which had only six home runs in the first 16 spring games before hitting three on Saturday.
The game lasted less than two hours as Hernandez and Haren looked in midseason form.
A day after Seattle lost starter Cliff Lee (abdominal strain) for at least a week and Doug Fister (bruised right forearm) for a few days, Hernandez was dominant, allowing singles to Tony Abreu in the second and Stephen Drew to start the third.
“We lost six in a row, and I wanted to step up and make sure we had some fun and won a game,” Hernandez said. “I had some good defense behind me and we got some hits and we just keep it going now and get more confidence.”
Hernandez needed only 61 pitches to get through his five innings and threw 15 more in the bullpen to finish his scheduled count.
“I was able to locate my fastball and my breaking ball was outstanding,” he said. “(I finished up in the bullpen) because I needed to work from the stretch. Opening day is close now so I just want to throw hard and get ready.”
Haren wasn’t bad either, striking out seven over five innings and allowing just four hits.
But the home runs hurt. Guiterrez smacked a long drive over the left-field bullpen in the first and Langerhans led off the second with a shot to right-center.
Former Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes robbed Drew of a double to begin the game and added an RBI single off his good friend Haren in the second.
Drew still had two of Arizona’s three hits on the day with singles in the third and sixth and is now hitting .419 this spring.
“I have a lot of great memories from my time with Arizona and a lot of good friends in the clubhouse,” said Byrnes, who has five doubles this spring, “Haren and I pretty much talk every day. But I really enjoying the team and the situation. I’m finally healthy for the first time in two years.”
X-rays on Fister’s forearm were negative. Wakamatsu said it looks like nothing more than a deep tissue bruise. … Griffey was 0 for 2 with a walk and is 3 for 16 this spring (.188) with one double. Wakamatsu said he was encouraged with the way Griffey swung the bat Saturday, sending a ball to the warning track in the sixth. … Arizona’s Chris Snyder, thrown at by Lee when the two teams played Monday in Tucson, was an uneventful 0 for 3.
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