Michael Morse continued a hot spring with his eighth home run and Felix Hernandez allowed three runs on nine hits as the Mariners (20-11) closed out the home portion of spring training with a 10-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Peoria. Morse’s eighth home run, a two-run shot off former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, tied the club record for most Cactus League homers.
Morse, acquired from the Washington Nationals during the off-season, belted his home run in the first inning, matching Mike Wilson’s club mark, set in 2009. Morse also drew a pair of walks and hiked his spring average to .365.
Hernandez, making his final spring start, threw 96 pitches, issued one walk, fanned three and hit a batter. He finished with a 2.65 ERA in four starts and will be Seattle’s opening night pitcher Monday against the Athletics in Oakland.
Manager Eric Wedge, who earlier Wednesday named his starting rotation (see below), was tossed in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Catcher Jesus Montero went 2-for-4 and had an RBI single in the third. Dustin Ackley also had two hits, including a triple. Minor league callup Nate Tenbrink had a three-run double in the sixth that made the score 9-3 and chased Ted Lilly.
The Mariners have hit 55 spring home runs with two games to go and have gone deep in 30 of their last 31 games. In the past 20 years, only the 1999 Cubs (62) and 2006 Royals (56) hit more spring long balls.
Spring stats, though, didn’t translate to the regular season for the Cubs or the Royals. The ’99 Cubs went 67-95 and the ’06 Royals finished 62-100 and ranked 14th and last in A.L. home runs (124).
Hisashi Iwakuma will take the mound Thursday as the Mariners close out their Cactus League season with a 12:05 p.m. game against the Cubs in Mesa. Iwakuma, who’ll be the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation when the season opens next week in Oakland, is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in five outings. Carter Capps and Lucas Luetge are scheduled to pitch in relief.
NOTES: Manager Eric Wedge announced his starting rotation Wednesday without officially identifying his No. 4 and No. 5 starters. Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Joe Saunders have the first three starts, while Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan won the final two spots. Maurer will start the fourth game of the regular season, making him the No. 4 starter at least for now . . . Maurer is the first Mariners pitcher to jump from AA to a starting spot in the rotation since Mike Hampton and John Cummings both made the leap in 1993 . . . The Mariners also made two roster moves, optioning RHP Erasmo Ramirez to AAA Tacoma and sending RHP Jeremy Bonderman to minor league camp.