Are we, finally, starting to see the Seattle Mariners put a run together? Tuesday’s 10-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies makes four wins in the past five games. Three victories in a row, too.
If that sounds modest … no argument.
But the last the time Mariners won three in a row was May 25-27 when they pulled off a sweep at Tampa Bay. That was before they collapsed in a 2-9 homestand that, pretty much, put them in their current fix.
“That’s our goal — to start something,” said second baseman Robinson Cano, who had two hits and three RBIs. “But we’ve got to forget about what we did the last four or five games. We’ve just got to go game by game.
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“Just try to win games.”
Nelson Cruz’s 31st homer highlighted a 14-hit attack in many ways. It marked his fifth consecutive game with a homer, and this one, even by “Boomstick” standards, was a bomb: 456 feet to center field.
Cruz also has a 15-game hitting streak, and he is batting .433 (29 for 67) with 10 homers in that stretch. Feeling hot?
“I guess,” he said, “a little bit.”
The smile spoke louder.
“We’re building and we’re confident,” he said. “To be able to play this well — the confidence is there.”
The Mariners improved to 50-58 as they reached the two-thirds point in their season. They trail Toronto by six games for the American League’s final wild-card spot with 54 games left.
“I know we have the talent and the pitching,” Cano said. “But it has to be together, the offense, defense and pitching. That’s how you win games.”
Long reliever Vidal Nuno lasted just 32/3 innings in a spot start, but he also produced a notable achievement with an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Nuno’s single gave the Mariners a 3-1 lead and ended the major league record for futility at the plate by pitchers for one club in interleague play.
Specifically, the Mariners’ pitchers were a combined 0 for 52 before Nuno’s single. It was also his second hit in 25 career at-bats.
“I just go out there and swing,” Nuno said. “It’s all about reaction. Hand-eye coordination, and you just try to hit it as hard as you can.”
He didn’t get to savor it for long.
Nuno surrendered a tying home run later in the inning to Lake Washington High graduate Nick Hundley, the son of former University of Washington assistant football coach Tim Hundley.
When Drew Stubbs punched a two-out double past third baseman Kyle Seager, the Mariners went to the bullpen.
“I thought he ran out of gas at the end,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I think running the bases hurt him. This altitude kind of got to him. He was breathing a little hard there.”
A bullpen relay of Rob Rasmussen, Mayckol Guaipe, Joe Beimel and Fernando Rodney held the Rockies to one run over the final 51/3 innings.
The game turned when the Mariners broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning on Franklin Gutierrez’s two-run pinch single against Christian Friedrich (0-3).
Mark Trumbo led off with a single, and the Mariners caught a break when second baseman D.J. LeMahieu fumbled Brad Miller’s potential double-play grounder.
Jesus Sucre’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third before Gutierrez batted for Rasmussen (1-0) and lined a two-run single into center for a 5-3 lead.
“Just trying to make contact,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not easy to pinch-hit, but you have to do whatever you can.”
Guaipe replaced Rasmussen to start the bottom of the inning and gave up a leadoff homer to Kyle Parker. Guaipe gave up two more hits in the inning but escaped without further damage.
Cruz got that run back with a his boomer to start the seventh inning against Scott Oberg, who had just entered the game.
After Beimel bailed out Guaipe in the Colorado seventh, the Mariners extended their lead to 9-4 with a three-run eighth against Rafael Betancourt and Boone Logan.
Miller led off with a hustle double but was thrown out at third when Sucre attempted another sacrifice. Betancourt walked Seth Smith, and Austin Jackson followed with an RBI single.
Logan replaced Betancourt and surrendered a two-run single to Robinson Cano before ending the inning. The Mariners added another run in the ninth on Seth Smith’s RBI double against Justin Miller.
“We had some big hits,” McClendon said, “from guys who we count on in the middle of our order — Seager, Cruz, Robby. They got big hits for us. The guys we need to do the job did it.”