An important three-game series between the second- and third-best non-division leaders in the American League began with a 7-2 Mariners win over the Tigers Friday at Comerica Park. The win helped Seattle leap-frog the Tigers for sole possession of the second wild card, and was its fifth consecutive game and ninth in 10 games. Lloyd McClendon and Austin Jackson made their respective returns to Detroit a winning one, thanks to early offense.
Seattle (66-55) went up 3-0 in the second inning off Detroit starter Rick Porcello (13-8, 3.28 ERA) and didn’t look back. The first five hitters reached base on four singles and a hit by pitch. Logan Morrison and Endy Chavez delivered RBI singles, while Austin Jackson pushed home another run with a ground ball.
Runs were tacked on in the third, fourth and fifth innings to increase the lead to 6-1. Robinson Cano hit a leadoff homer in the third, his 11th. Chris Taylor delivered an RBI single in the fourth.
With James Paxton on the mound, it was more than enough support. Paxton was the target of high praise from McClendon earlier in the week. McClendon called him the “glue” to the rotation moving forward and a “shutdown” pitcher.
“I think this kid has greatness written all over him,” McClendon said Wednesday. “If he throws the ball the way he did (against Chicago), he can be extremely big for us.”
He didn’t have his best stuff Friday, but the rookie still managed to get ground-ball outs with a 93-96 mph fastball in on the hands of a right-handed-dominant Tigers lineup. That pitch limited the Tigers to one run on five hits and a walk over six innings. Paxton struck out two while throwing 99 pitches.
The 25-year-old left-hander improved to 3-0, 6-0 for his career with a 1.88 ERA. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any start.
The Tigers scored a run in the third inning when Rajai Davis led off with a triple and came home on a ground out by Ian Kinsler. Further damage was limited by shortstop Chris Taylo,r who ranged deep into the hole to his right, snared a hard ground ball off the bat of Victor Martinez and threw out the slow runner to end the inning.
An eighth-inning run against Dominic Leone cut Seattle’s lead, and the M’s responded with a run in the ninth when Brad Miller scored after a triple and stolen base.
Seattle continued a record run of 13 straight games over August in which it has not allowed an opponent to score more than three runs
Among the offensive leaders were Cano and Logan Morrison, each with two hits and an RBI. Morrison saw his 13-game hitting streak come to an end Wednesday against knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey, but re-started with a single and a double.
The Mariners had a little scare in the eighth. Cano, who fouled a pitch off his right foot in the first inning, hobbled up the line after an at-bat in the eighth and was pulled from the game. He was seen entering the M’s clubhouse with his right shoe off. There was no word on his status shortly after the game.
Seattle picked up a game on the AL West division-leading Athletics,who lost to the Braves. The Mariners trail the A’s by 6.5 games.
OF Michael Saunders (personal leave) resumed his minor-league rehab with Class AAA Tacoma Friday. McClendon said he would need at least three more games before returning.