2B Robinson Cano brought the big bat, accounting for six RBIs, while the Mariners (11-9) had a strong performance from starter Nathan Karns as he out-dueled Houston ace Dallas Keuchel in the first-place Mariners’ 11-1 win over the Astros Tuesday night. Cano had a two-run single in the fifth and a grand slam – 10th of his career, first since 2012 — in the seventh. In seven innings of shutout baseball, Karns easily surpassed Keuchel (6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER).
With a 2-0 lead and the bases loaded in the fifth, the Mariners blew open the game on an historic hit from Cano. His bloop single scored two runs, giving Cano 1,000 RBIs for his career, then a third run scored from third when Cano was caught in a rundown. Both runners were safe, the lead blooped to 5-0 and the Mariners were on their way to a fourth consecutive series win.
Karns allowed two hits during his seven scoreless innings, the finest outing of his young Mariners career. The former Tampa Bay Ray was more impressive than teammate Taijuan Walker was the previous night. Karns retired the first eight batters and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth. Reliever Tony Zych came on in the eighth and gave up two walks and an RBI double. Perhaps the most notable pitcher of the night took the mound for the Astros in the eighth: backup catcher Erik Kratz. In his pitching debut, Kratz allowed three hits and two runs, throwing two wild pitches.
Cano became the fifth-fastest second baseman to reach 1,000 RBIs with his bases-loaded single in the fifth, then he tacked on a grand slam to match his career high of six RBIs. SS Ketel Marte had three hits with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. RF Nelson Cruz added two hits and two RBIs on a night when Keuchel retired the first six batters but had trouble the rest of the way. The Mariners piled up 13 hits and a season high in runs.
“I’ve been in this game so long. That can’t happen. No excuses for that.” – Cano, on losing track of outs in the field in the top of the seventh.
Cano didn’t quite have a perfect night. He made a gaffe at second base when he took a throw from SS Ketel Marte and lazily stepped on second base for a force play. It was only the second out of the inning, and the hitter easily reached first without Cano realizing he could have had a double play . . . CF Leonys Martin was not in the lineup Tuesday despite hitting home runs in the Mariners’ previous two games because Keuchel is a lefty . . . Only 13,821 fans attended, which wasn’t even the smallest Safeco Field crowd of the season. It marked the fifth time in eight home games this season that the Mariners have failed to draw 16,000 fans.
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (0-2, 3.81 ERA) seeks his first win of the season as the Mariners wrap up their series with AL West cellar-dweller Houston. The Astros counter with RHP Collin McHugh, who has a 3-0 record and 1.66 ERA in three career starts at Safeco Field. McHugh (1-3, 7.56 ERA) has faced Seattle more times in his career – eight – than any other franchise.