The thin air of Coors Field suited the Mariners Monday night as they hit three home runs and three doubles that helped produced an 8-7 triumph (box score) in the first of three interleague games with the Colorado Rockies (44-60). Felix Hernandez was knocked around for 11 hits, but only four runs in 6.2 innings. All eight Seattle (49-58) runs came with two outs. The Rockies scored three times in the ninth.
A four-run first inning against Rockies starter Eddie Butler provided a lead the Mariners never lost. Robinson Cano’s single scored Kyle Seager, who doubled. Jesus Montero drove in Cano and Seth Smith with a double. Brad Miller singled home Montero.
In the second inning, Nelson Cruz hit his 30th homer — and 23rd on the road, a major league high. It followed a solo homer by Seager, his 16th. In the third, Miller hit his ninth HR to put the Mariners up 7-1. All three ended up with three hits apiece. Cano had two hits, and his seventh-inning, RBI double was his team-high 25th.
In his first game in Coors, Hernandez rallied bit from a seven-run debacle in his most recent game against Arizona, striking out nine with a walk and a hit batter for his 13th win, tied for tops in the American League. Hernandez was up to 100 pitches in the seventh, but manager Lloyd McClendon allowed him to hit. He grounded out to second.
Relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Rob Rasmussen, the latter making his Mariners debut after a trade from Toronto, each gave up singles to open the ninth. Closer Carson Smith came in to whiff D.J. LeMahieu, who became the first opponent in Mariners history to strike out five times in a game.
Ben Paulson doubled to score two runs to cut the lead to 8-6. He came home on Kyle Parker’s single to right. PH Michael McKenry struck out, and leadoff hitter Charlie Blockmon, who had four hits, flew out to center to end the game.
“It’s tough to manage in this ballpark. Your (pitches) just don’t snap as well. Felix didn’t have a lot of sink on his fastball. Tonight showed how good he is.” — McClendon
With Cano returning to second base after recovering from an abdominal strain, Ketel Marte was moved to center field despite having only four games there in his five minor league seasons. “He played center field well,” McClendon told reporters pre-game. “He played second base well. He played shortstop well. You may see him at shortstop, too. I don’t know (how much center field he’ll play). I’d like to play him as much as I possibly can, get him in a lot of different positions. He might pitch, what the hell.” Marte also hit leadoff after getting on base four times Sunday in Minnesota. He was 0-for-4 . . . With an off-day coming Thursday, McClendon was unsure of the order of his rotation: “It has everything to do with scheduling going forward, matchups, who does well agains what team. It’s not just the next five days but the next 10-12 days out.”
For the series’ second game, both teams are sending out novices. Reliever Vidal Nuno (0-0, 2.11 ERA) will make a spot start, his first for Seattle after the trade of J.A. Happ. The Rockies’ Jon Gray will make his major league debut.