Seattle Mariners

Mariners hit four homers and roll to 7-2 victory over Rockies

Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez dives to catch a ball hit by the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz for an out in the fourth inning Saturday.
Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez dives to catch a ball hit by the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz for an out in the fourth inning Saturday. The Associated Press

SEATTLE — Four homers. That usually works, right?

The Mariners hit four homers Saturday night and continued their (too-late?) late-season surge with a 7-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Safeco Field.

Robinson Cano started the power show with a laser that enabled him to join a select group. Nelson Cruz closed the scoring with a two-run drive that set a career high and gave him a share of the major-league lead.

In between, there were contributions from Jesus Montero and Franklin Gutierrez, who returned to the starting lineup after a weeklong absence.

The Mariners also got a dominant five innings from lefty starter Roenis Elias before he threatened to unravel in the sixth. The bullpen stepped in, though, and kept the game under control.

So there was much to like and, maybe, enough to renew dreams.

The Mariners won for the eighth time in 11 games and closed to within six games of Texas for the American League’s final wild-card spot with 19 games remaining.

“Hopefully, we can do something that looks rough,” Cruz said. “Right now, we’re playing our best baseball of the whole year. We’re pitching well and playing defense. I can say we have a pretty good team right now.”

Yes, the math is grim, but the line isn’t flat.

Not yet.

“Nobody,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said, “has pulled the curtains on us just yet.”

Cano opened the scoring against Colorado lefty Yohan Flande (3-3) when he started the second inning by sending a boomer to right that struck the facing of the second deck.

It also put Cano in an exclusive club.

The homer was his 50th extra-base hit of the season — a milestone that he’s reached in each of his 11 seasons. Only four other players in history had at least 50 extra-base hits in each of their first 11 seasons.

“It means a lot,” Cano admitted. “Those are the kind of things where you go home, and it makes you work harder every single year.”

The other four: Carlos Lee did it in his first 13 seasons from 1999-2011; Albert Pujols (2001-12) and Eddie Mathews (1952-63) did it in their first 12 seasons; and Paul Waner (1926-36) did it in his first 11 seasons.

“Listen,” McClendon said, “when you put ‘only’ in front of a statement in this game, then you’re pretty special.”

The Mariners extended their lead to 2-0 with two outs in the third inning. Kyle Seager doubled into the right-center gap and scored on Cruz’s single to left.

Montero drove a one-out homer over the center-field wall to ignite a two-run fourth. Shawn O’Malley then reached third on an infield single and a two-base throwing error by Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado.

O’Malley scored when John Hicks put down a perfect bunt on a suicide squeeze. Hicks was safe at first when Flande chose, for some reason, to make a belated flip to the plate.

The Mariners kept coming.

Gutierrez’s one-out homer in the fifth, against David Hale, boosted the lead to 5-0. It was Gutierrez’s 12th homer of the season and came in his first start since he left the Sept. 4 game in Oakland because of chronic joint issues.

Elias (5-8) carried that five-run lead into the sixth inning. He was pitching a one-hitter, had struck out eight and appeared in total command. Then he fumbled Tom Murphy’s leadoff squibber for an error.

And everything changed.

Elias issued successive four-pitch walks to Brandon Barnes and Cristhian Adames, which loaded the bases with no outs. DJ LeMahieu’s soft grounder to short produced a force at second, but scored a run.

When LeMahieu stole second without a throw on Elias’ first pitch to Arenado, McClendon had seen enough. He went to the bullpen for Logan Kensing.

“I was on a roll,” Elias said, “and I was a little upset with myself (after bobbling the swinging bunt). Only going 51/3 innings, with that pitch count, I should be able to go seven innings.”

After Arenado sent a sacrifice fly to deep right, the Mariners opted for another matchup by calling on David Rollins to face Carlos Gonzalez. That worked. Gonzalez grounded out to second.

Elias’ final line for the 51/3 innings showed one hit and two unearned (but deserved) runs. He finished with eight strikeouts and three walks.

“Their lefty was electric early on,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, “but it looked like he lost some command later. They jumped out to a big lead early, so it was tough playing from behind.”

The Mariners’ bullpen took it home. Danny Farquhar replaced Rollins to start the seventh and pitched around Corey Dickerson’s one-out double. Carson Smith and Joe Beimel worked the final two innings.

The Mariners rebuilt their five-run lead on Cruz’s two-run homer in the seventh. It was his 41st of the season and pulled him into tie with former Baltimore teammate Chris Davis for the major-league lead.

“You want to get better,” said Cruz, who led the majors last season when he hit 40 homers for the Orioles. “You work in the off-season to try to get better, and you want to help your team.

“When you accomplish bigger numbers than the year before, it’s important. They matter.”

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

SUNDAY: Colorado (RHP Kyle Kendrick 5-12 6.25 ERA) at Seattle (LHP James Paxton 3-3 3.70 ERA) 1:10 p.m., Root Sports, 770-AM

  Comments