ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Felix Hernandez thinks the Mariners’ offseason reboot will produce impressive results this season, and Seattle’s ace was glad to help out in yet another win on opening day.
Abraham Almonte hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh inning and Hernandez struck out 11 in the new-look Mariners’ eighth consecutive victory on opening day, 10-3 over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Hernandez (1-0) gave up four hits over six innings in his seventh opening day start for the Mariners. After he allowed a first-inning homer by Mike Trout, Hernandez settled into his usual brilliance — and unlike many nights last season, his teammates provided enough runs to win.
“You’ve just got to make good pitches, and we’re going to be OK this season,” said Hernandez, who passed Randy Johnson for the club record for opening day starts. “I can feel that. I made a couple of mistakes, but I felt really confident with these guys.”
Justin Smoak hit a three-run homer and Dustin Ackley had a three-run triple while the Mariners batted around in the ninth inning, roaring back from an early two-run deficit.
Robinson Cano went 2 for 4 with a double and an intentional walk in the $240 million second baseman’s debut for new Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon, who hesitated to ascribe much significance to a close game that turned into a blowout win.
“I thought our starter did a tremendous job and battled all night,” said McClendon, who replaced Eric Wedge. “The bullpen did a fantastic job, and the offense did a great job grinding out at-bats.”
Trout hit a two-run homer and Albert Pujols had a run-scoring double for the Angels, who had won nine of 10 on opening day, including five straight.
Their evening got off to an ominous start when hitting coach Don Baylor broke his right leg while catching Vladimir Guerrero’s ceremonial first pitch.
“Obviously it’s a freak (injury),” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll see how it turns out.”
The former Rockies and Cubs manager will have surgery on his femur Tuesday. Baylor’s leg bent awkwardly before he had to be helped to the dugout, leaving the Angels stunned as they took the field.
“It got me sick when I was warming up and hearing what happened in the dugout,” Trout said.
Hernandez outdueled Jered Weaver (0-1), who yielded six hits and three walks in his club-record sixth start on opening day.
Mike Zunino had an RBI triple in the seventh to chase Weaver, and Almonte drove him home with a double off Angels newcomer Fernando Salas. Smoak connected in the ninth off Kevin Jepsen while the Mariners batted around.
After Cano grounded out to short in his first plate appearance, the longtime Yankees second baseman got his first Mariners hit on a 50-foot squib to third base in the fourth inning. He rapped a solid double to right in the ninth before Smoak’s shot.
The Angels’ top newcomers didn’t impress for openers: David Freese went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, and longtime Mariners slugger Raul Ibanez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
Trout’s new $144.5 million contract doesn’t even begin until next season, but the brightest young talent in baseball wasted no time delivering. After Kole Calhoun’s leadoff single, Trout put an emphatic drive over the left field fence against Hernandez.
Pujols’ double boosted Los Angeles’ lead to 3-1 in the third. The Mariners nearly tied it with a two-out rally in the sixth, but Calhoun swiftly fielded Kyle Seager’s RBI double off the right field wall, and cutoff man Howie Kendrick threw out Logan Morrison at the plate.
But one inning later, Zunino put a one-out triple over Josh Hamilton’s head in left, scoring Ackley.
NOTES: Morrison had three strikeouts and two walks in his Mariners debut. … Weaver has started the last five consecutive opening days, while Hernandez has started six straight Mariners openers. … Ibanez has spent the majority of his career in Seattle during three stints with the club. He had 29 homers and 65 RBIs for the Mariners last year.
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