The Seattle Mariners faced a tough left-on-left lefty Thursday in Carlos Rodon when they opened a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
Manager Lloyd McClendon saw that as a perfect chance to rest slumping third baseman Kyle Seager, who was in a 1 for 27 funk before hitting a homer in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 8-2 victory over Oakland.
“Seager is getting a well-deserved day off,” McClendon said. “He didn’t know about it, and I didn’t tell him because I didn’t feel like fighting with him.”
While not pleased, Seager sought to be philosophical.
“I prepare to play every day,” he said, “but getting off days over the course of a season is a way to recuperate a little bit, do some rehab stuff and be ready to go when he calls my name.”
It’s been more than two months since Seager wasn’t in the starting lineup. So long ago that his replacement was Willie Bloomquist, who was designated for assignment in late June.
This time, the replacement was Brad Miller, whose previous experience at third base was limited to 14 innings over six reserve assignments in his three-year career.
Seager entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and grounded out. That enabled him to remain the majors’ undisputed leader in games played since the start of the 2012 season at 598.
Teammate Robinson Cano hit 597 games since 2010 when he started Thursday at second base.
“(Seager) is no different from any other player,” McClendon said. “During the course of the year, you’re going to go through a funk — and he’s going through his funk at this particular time. I think he’s finally coming out of it.
“I thought he had real good at-bats (on Wednesday). He just didn’t get the results. In the end, he hit a home run. I thought he battled quite nicely.”
Seager, too, saw a difference.
“I was able to see some pitches,” he said, “get deep in counts to be able to be in position where you are not having to swing out of his hand. Being in a better position to hit.
“I thought a couple of the balls I popped up were actually pretty good swings. I just kind of missed them.”
So why, McClendon reasoned, risk blunting any positive momentum by sending Seager out to face Rodon, who has limited left-handed hitters to a .194 average and a .231 slugging percentage.
“It’s a perfect day to give him off,” McClendon said. “He’ll be back at third base (on Friday).”
RODNEY TO CUBS
Veteran closer Fernando Rodney is heading to the Chicago Cubs and a possible role in a postseason chase.
The Mariners traded Rodney to the Cubs for unspecified cash considerations. The Cubs have a 5 1/2 game lead for the National League’s second wild card spot.
The move reunites Rodney, 38, with manager Joe Maddon, his former skipper at Tampa Bay. Rodney spent two seasons with the Rays before signing with Mariners prior to the 2014 season.
The Mariners designated Rodney for assignment Saturday and remain obligated for the balance of his $7 million salary for season. The cash received from the Cubs will help defray that expense.
Rodney was an All-Star in 2014 when he led the majors with 48 saves, but he slumped badly this season and surrendered his duty as the club’s closer in early June. He had a 5.68 ERA in 54 games when designated for assignment.
Nelson Cruz had a single in the third inning that extended his career-best streak of reaching base safely to 37 consecutive games. It is the longest active streak, and the longest streak this season by an American League player.
St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday had a 44-game streak, and Toronto shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had a 41-game run while playing for Colorado.
Cruz is batting .355 (54 for 152) in his streak with 32 runs, nine doubles, 18 home runs and 29 RBIs.
Rookie shortstop Ketel Marte’s streak ended at 13 games when he went o for 4. He batted .400 (20 for 50) in his 13-game run.
Still more Cruz:
He is the first Mariner to hit 12 homers in a month since Alex Rodriguez had a dozen in July 1999. Some perspective: Cruz is the first Mariner to hit 12 homers in a month in the Safeco Field era.
Cruz is the fourth Mariner to hit 12 homers in a month. Ken Griffey Jr. did it five times, including a franchise-record 15 in April 1997. Jay Buhner did it twice, and Rodriguez did it once.
Cruz had four more games in August to add to his total.
One look back at Felix Hernandez’s effort Wednesday, when he broke a personal two-game skid by limiting Oakland to two runs over eight innings in an 8-2 victory.
It marked the 85th time in Hernandez’s career, which began in 2005, that he held an opponent to two or fewer runs over eight or more innings. Former teammate Cliff Lee ranks second in that span with 71 such starts.
Hernandez has 66 such starts since the beginning of the 2009 season. Clayton Kershaw ranks second in that span with 66.
Further: Hernandez reached 15 victories for the third time in his career. Only Jamie Moyer has done that more often as a Mariner; Moyer had four such seasons.
Mark Langston, Randy Johnson and Freddy Garcia also won 15 or more games in three seasons.
Single-A Everett right-hander Andrew Moore lowered his ERA to 2.25 by pitching three scoreless innings of relief Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to Salem-Keizer (Giants).
Moore, 21, was the Mariners’ second pick in the June draft after a standout career at Oregon State. He is 1-1 in 13 games for the AquaSox, including seven starts, and has 42 strikeouts and just one walk in 36 innings.
It was 18 years ago Thursday — Aug. 28, 1997 — that Omar Olivares became the first Mariners pitcher to drive in a run when he grounded a two-run single through the left side in the second inning at Colorado.
Olivares’ hit gave the Mariners a two-run lead, but he couldn’t hold it. He gave up six runs in six innings in a 9-5 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.
The Mariners have lost nine of their past 11 games at U.S. Cellular Field. ... Cano needs five more extra-base hits to reach 50 for the 11th season in a row at the start of his career. Only four other players have done it. The last was Albert Pujols. … McClendon said he still hasn’t decided on a starting pitcher for Sunday, which is Mike Montgomery’s next slotted turn in the rotation. … The Mariners entered Thursday with 35 homers in August after hitting 37 in July. They last time they hit 35 or more in successive months was 1999, when they hit 44 in April and 58 in May.
The Mariners and White Sox continue their four-game series at 5:10 p.m. (PDT) Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (9-7, 4.72 ERA) will face Chicago lefty John Danks (6-11, 4.90). The two faced one another last Sunday at Safeco Field, when the Mariners held on for an 8-6 victory.
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Mariners to hit 12 or more homers in one month
15 Ken Griffey Jr. May 1994
14 Ken Griffey Jr. June 1998
13 Jay Buhner September 1995
Ken Griffey Jr. April 1997
12 Ken Griffey Jr. August 1997
Ken Griffey Jr. September 1997
Jay Buhner May 1996
Alex Rodriguez July 1999
Nelson Cruz August 2015