Facing a formidable United States lineup, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez tossed five scoreless innings in Venezuela's 4-2 loss in their World Baseball Classic Pool F opener at Petco Park on Wednesday night.
Hernandez yielded three hits, walked none and struck out three on 61 pitches (42 strikes). Entering the game, the former American League Cy Young Award winner had allowed two runs (one earned) over 2 2/3 innings during the Classic, starting against Puerto Rico in the first round.
Hernandez retired the first seven U.S. batters he faced before giving up three straight singles to Jonathan Lucroy, Alex Bregman and Ian Kinsler to load the bases in the third. But Hernandez got Adam Jones -- a career .310 (9-for-29) hitter against him -- to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
After Hernandez retired the next six batters he faced to get through the fifth, Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel turned to his relief corps to hold a 1-0 lead. After Rougned Odor's homer in the seventh made it 2-0, the U.S. made it 2-1 in the bottom of the inning before taking a 4-2 lead with homers in the eighth from Jones and Eric Hosmer.
"Well, in his last start, he went 50 pitches, 51 pitches," Vizquel said of Hernandez. "And this time he had 60 already. When I went to talk to him, he wasn't feeling too comfortable about the possibility of going out in the next inning, so I decided to go with the bullpen."
In 25 starts for Seattle in 2016, Hernandez posted a 3.82 ERA, missing nearly two months with a calf strain. The ERA was his highest in 10 seasons, and his 7.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings was the lowest mark of his career.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games in San Diego's Petco Park and the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.