PEORIA, Ariz. -- Scott Servais might as well have had a big tub of popcorn in front of him Wednesday night while taking in the United States vs. Venezuela game in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.The Mariners' manager had as much vested interest as any rabid native
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Scott Servais might as well have had a big tub of popcorn in front of him Wednesday night while taking in the United States vs. Venezuela game in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
The Mariners' manager had as much vested interest as any rabid native fan rooting on countrymen in the elite quadrennial international tournament. As it turns out, both of the game's starting pitchers -- Felix Hernandez for Venezuela and new left-hander Drew Smyly for Team USA -- added up to equal 40 percent of Servais' starting rotation for Seattle in the upcoming season.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
"It's kind of weird to watch a game and you walk away feeling really good about both starting pitchers, and having them both in Mariners uniforms here shortly," Servais said.
Fortunately for Servais, it was an easy game to watch. Hernandez, the former Cy Young Award winner and Seattle's perennial Opening Day starter, pitched five innings of shutout baseball while facing this lineup: Ian Kinsler, Adam Jones, Christian Yelich, Nolan Arenado, Eric Hosmer, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Bregman. He scattered three hits, struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Smyly had to go against a batting order with Jose Altuve, Martin Prado, Jose Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Rougned Odor, Alcides Escobar, Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Chirinos and Ender Inciarte. He lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up one unearned run on three hits while striking out eighth and not issuing a walk.
"Really good," Servais said. "I couldn't be any happier with the way they threw. Both guys were really attacking, throwing strikes, trusting their stuff, and they both had really good stuff.
"It was a good experience for both of them. It's a very, very competitive environment. I was really glad to see both of them come out after five innings. I think it was the right thing based on where they had been to that point this spring. Both of those guys had only gone out there for three innings, and to ask either one of them to go six, it's too much. So that was handled properly, in my opinion."
Smyly is not expected to pitch for Team USA again, so he could be back in Mariners camp shortly. Hernandez is expected to stick with Venezuela for the rest of the tournament, which concludes on March 22 with the as-yet-undetermined championship game in Dodger Stadium.
Either way, in addition to looking very good doing it, each pitcher got his spring work in on Wednesday night with an ideal pitch count. Each threw 61 pitches, with Hernandez throwing 42 strikes and Smyly throwing 44.
"Seeing them having some success there should put them in a good spot … when they both come back here," Servais said. "They'll be ready to go when the bell rings here on April 3. That's what I'm concerned about."
The World Baseball Classic runs through Wednesday. 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.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.