Nelson Cruz hit his 41st home run, a new career high, and teammates added three solo homers as the Mariners hammered the Rockies 7-2 Saturday night at Safeco Field (box score). Cruz matched Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the most home runs in MLB while breaking his personal mark of 40 last year.
While Cruz’s home run will probably get most of the headlines, it was the solo shot from 2B Robinson Cano in the second inning that made the biggest impression. Cano got all of a 1-0 pitch from Colorado starter Yohan Flande and hammered it 438 feet off the scoreboard in right field. That set off a night of home-run fireworks for the Mariners.
Starter Roenis Elias wasn’t just good for five innings; he was dominant. He retired the first nine, seven by strikeout, and had a one-hit shutout going into the sixth. Elias didn’t help himself by committing an error to the leadoff hitter, then lost his control and was out after 5.1 innings. Elias gave up one hit – a leadoff single to Colorado SS Cristhian Adames in the fourth – and walked three while striking out eight. Both runs allowed were unearned because of his error. Five relievers finished while allowing three hits and no runs over 3.2 innings from the galvanized Seattle bullpen.
Cruz, Cano, 1B Jesus Montero and LF Franklin Gutierrez had home runs, while 3B Kyle Seager was into the swing of things with two hits and two runs. Seattle had nine hits. The seven runs were the Mariners’ highest total in a week.
“You want to get better. You work in the offseason to get better. When you accomplish
bigger numbers than the year before, they’re important and they matter.” – Cruz
Gutierrez was back in the lineup for the first time in a week. He missed six games with an abdominal/pelvic issue, then came on to pinch-hit late in Friday’s loss . . . The Mariners are 4-0 this month with 33 runs scored (8.3 per game) when Gutierrez is in the lineup. When he’s not, Seattle is 4-3 while scoring 30 runs (4.3 per game) . . . The win helped Seattle avoid matching last year’s total of 75 losses in a season. The Mariners were 87-75 at the end of last season; they’re currently 68-74.
Oft-injured LHP James Paxton (3-3, 3.70 ERA) will make his long-awaited return to the mound Sunday afternoon. The 26-year-old southpaw hasn’t pitched since May 28, having spent 3½ months on the disabled list with what was originally a strained finger. Colorado will counter with RHP Kyle Kendrick (5-12, 6.25 ERA).