Mariners ace Felix Hernandez saw his opening day start Monday against the Astros cut short after five innings due to a groin injury.
Hernandez was running to cover first base on a Josh Reddick groundout for the second out of the fourth inning when he pulled up lame and limped back to the mound after making the out. He remained in the game for the final out and retired Houston 1-2-3 in the fifth before pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre was seen speaking to a visibly upset Hernandez in the dugout between innings.
Reliever Nick Vincent replaced Hernandez to start the sixth.
The 30-year-old righty was dealing with "groin tightness," the Mariners said. He allowed two runs — both solo home runes — on 65 pitches with five hits, no walks and six strikeouts in what was a 3-0 Mariners loss.
Hernandez, looking to rebound from a sub-par 2016, was pitching at the top of his game for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic.
The six-time All-Star threw 153 1/3 innings last year — fewest since his rookie year — after missing all of June and half of July with a calf strain.
His 3.82 ERA was his worst since 2007.