Finally, on Wednesday, the Mariners got a look at a right-handed starting pitcher — and they pounced and feasted in an 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
Nobody feasted more than first baseman Adam Lind, a left-handed hitter who started for just the fourth time in 12 games. Lind hit two homers, including a grand slam that capped a five-run first inning.
The Mariners scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings in building an 8-0 lead for rookie lefty Ariel Miranda, who responded by allowing no earned runs in six-plus innings.
Miranda (3-1) did allow three unearned runs, following a two-out error by shortstop Ketel Marte in the sixth inning. But a bullpen relay of Nick Vincent, Steve Cishek and Edwin Diaz closed out the victory.
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The victory enabled the Mariners, at 71-68, to claw back to within five games of Baltimore in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. They have 23 games remaining.
The Mariners rocked Texas starter A.J. Griffin (7-4) in a five-run first inning. Griffin also gave up leadoff homers to Lind in the third inning and Seth Smith in the fourth.
Miranda, meanwhile, was cruising. He carried a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning before a sloppy two-out error by Marte turned into three unearned runs.
Marte waved and whiffed at Delino DeShields’ grounder. After the error, Ian Desmond lined a single to left, and Carlos Beltran followed with a no-doubt homer to left.
The eight-run lead was down to 8-3.
Miranda exited after starting the seventh inning with a walk to Rougned Odor after jumping ahead 0-2 in the count. In came Vincent, who escaped with no damage — thanks in part to a double play started by Marte.
Cishek worked around two one-out singles in the eighth inning, aided by a fine running catch by center fielder Leonys Martin on Adrian Beltre’s tailing drive.
Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation.
The Mariners jumped to their big early lead after Smith opened the first inning with a sinking liner to left that skipped past a diving Delino DeShields for a double.
Marte followed with an RBI single past first base for a 1-0 lead.
Singles by Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager loaded the bases with one out before Lind unloaded a 416-foot drive to center for a grand slam. The Mariners led 5-0.
Miranda began the Texas second inning by walking Adrian Beltre but struck out the next three batters.
Griffin walked the bases loaded with one out later in the inning, but the Mariners settled for one run — on Nelson Cruz’s sacrifice fly. That made it 6-0.
Lind’s second homer, an opposite-field shot to left leading off the third inning, extended the lead to 7-0. Smith led off the fourth inning with a homer to center … 8-0.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Miranda must have a heck of a pickoff move. Not because he sniffed out Carlos Gomez’s attempted steal in the third inning, which resulted in a caught stealing.
But because Miranda executed the move with the umpiring balkmaster, Bob Davidson, looking on from third base.
PLUS: Smith batted leadoff and responded with three hits and a walk in his four plate appearances. … Cano extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the first inning. … Lind’s grand slam was the fourth of his career.
MINUS: Marte committed a two-out error in the sixth inning with a careless approach to a routine grounder. It led to three unearned runs. … Catcher Mike Zunino and rookie right fielder Ben Gamel each went 0 for 4. Zunino struck out three times.
STAT PACK: Lind has 12 multi-homer games in his career, including two this season. He also reached 20 homers for the sixth time in his 11-year career.
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners reached agreement with Short-A Everett on a four-year extension in their player-development contract through 2020. The AquaSox, who play in the Northwest League, have been a Mariners affiliate since the 1995 season. The Mariners’ only remaining open player-development contract is with Double-A Jackson.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners