On March 27, the Mariners signed 35-year-old veteran Chris Young, just released by the Washington Nationals, in the hope that he could help fill out the back end of the rotation, then awash with injuries. Instead, Young became a key reason Seattle, an 8-1 winner over Detroit Sunday at Comerica Park, remains in the chase for an AL wild card spot.
Young allowed four hits over six innings, induced 12 fly-ball outs, struck out four, held the top of the order to 0-for-9, and notched his 12th victory, tying his 2005 career high. The Mariners provided him with 10 (of 13 total) hits of support and the Tigers gifted him three runs with misplays.
The Mariners (67-56) leapfrogged the Tigers (66-56) and re-claimed the second wild card spot by a half game. The Mariners also took the series 2-1, their 20th series triumph of the year against 16 losses and five ties. The Mariners have won six of seven, 10 of 12, and are 12-4 over their past 16 heading to Philadelphia, where they begin a three-game series Monday.
Young, who also defeated Detroit 3-2 May 31, won his fourth consecutive decision, helping the Mariners improve to 50-10 when they score four or more runs.
They had all they needed with three runs coming as a result of a balk and wild pitch by Detroit starter Robbie Ray, and a pop fly that shortstop Andrew Romine and left fielder Rajai Davis let fall between them.
The Mariners did plenty of pounding of their own. Five hitters — Austin Jackson (2-for-5), Robinson Cano (2-for-3), Kendrys Morales (2-for-4), Kyle Seager (2-for-4) and Chris Donorfia (3-for-5) — produced multi-hit games. Cano scored three runs, Seager knocked in three and Donorfia tripled and delivered his first three-hit game in a Seattle uniform.
“We had some real good at-bats,” said manager Lloyd McClendon, ejected in the seventh inning. “We stayed in the middle of the field and got some balls in the gaps. We had some very professional at-bats today. It was good all around. We came in here (Detroit) and did what we wanted to do, win a series. That’s always the objective. So I’m very pleased.”
Taking advantage of Ray’s balk, the Mariners tallied twice in the first on a Dustin Ackley walk, singles by Cano and Morales and a sacrifice fly by Seager, then tacked on another run in the third when Cano, after his second hit, scored on Ray’s wild pitch.
Denorfia unloaded his triple into the deepest part of Comerica Park in the fifth, scoring Seager, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. Not only was the three-bagger Denorfia’s first as a Mariner, but also his first RBI.
The Tigers threatened Young in the fifth with two aboard and no outs. Catcher Alex Avila advanced to third with one out, but Young retired Ian Kinsler and Ezequiel Carrera on fly balls to Donorfia in right. Carrera became the key out with Miguel Cabrera on deck.
“His secondary stuff was really good, especially his slider,” McClendon said. “He kept them off balance. This was not his best game, but he certainly pitched well against a very good ball club.”
“The main thing was that we won against a great team with a history of success, a team that’s been where we want to go,” added Young, who threw 63 of his 99 pitches for strikes. “At this point, all the games are big ones, and we won, that’s all I care about. I’m just happy to contribute to a team win. Our guys came out ready to go, got me the lead, and allowed me to be aggressive.”
The Mariners erupted for three runs in the sixth on a double by Chris Taylor, singles by Jackson and Seager, an intentional walk and another goof by the Tigers when Romine and Davis let a Morales pop fly fall between them.
Seattle tallied its final run in the eighth when Seager’s double to deep right scored Brad Miller. Detroit got its only run in the eighth on a Victor Martinez RBI double.
McClendon was ejected for the fifth time this season and for the second night in a row. He got the thumb from third base umpire Tony Randazzo — he was behind home plate Saturday when McClendon objected to balls and strikes — after the entire Mariners bench objected to a checked swing by Avila. McClendon didn’t want to talk about the ejection, saying, “There’s not a lot to say on that.” When pressed about why he was tossed, he said, “He said I put my hand up. That’s a new one.” . . . The Mariners won 17 of their last 28 against the Tigers . . .. Donorfia’s three-hit game was his first since July 25 when he played for San Diego . . . Rajai Davis had three stolen bases for Detroit . . . The Mariners and Tigers split the season series 3-3.
The Mariners go in Philadelphia Monday with LHP Roenis Elias (9-9, 4.14) of Seattle working opposite RHP Jerome Williams (0-0, 3.38). Following a day off Thursday, the Mariners play a three-game set at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.