2B Robinson Cano became the third Mariner in as many nights to turn in a multi-homer game, but he couldn’t come through when it really mattered as Seattle fell 5-3 to the Indians Thursday at Safeco. Cano hit a pair of solo homers, while a third solo shot – from 1B Adam Lind – was all the offense the Mariners had as as they settled for a series split with the Central Division leaders (box). With two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth, Cano struck out swinging at a bad pitch against Cleveland closer Cody Allen.
After Lind tied the score at 2 with a leadoff homer in the seventh, in the eighth reliever Joaquin Benoit served up a tiebreaking, two-run shot to rookie Tyler Naquin. Naquin’s fourth home run in his past six games gave the Indians a 4-2 lead before teammate Jason Kipnis added an RBI single.
Electric rookie Edwin Diaz didn’t look nearly as impressive in his second outing. The 22-year-old Double-A call-up allowed two hits, a walk and a run in the seventh, his only inning of work. Diaz, whose fastball touched 97 miles per hour but never hit triple digits as it had in his debut earlier in the series, gave up an RBI single for a 2-1 Cleveland lead. Benoit (1-1) took the loss.
Starter Nathan Karns ran into control problems in the second inning and never really settled into a groove. Karns gave up two hits and left with a 1-0 lead in the fifth. The bad news was that he issued five walks over 4.1 innings, eventually getting charged with a run when reliever Mike Montgomery gave up an RBI single with the bases loaded in the fifth. That was the only hit allowed by Montgomery, although he narrowly avoided issuing a grand slam in the fifth, thanks to a gentle breeze that caused Jose Ramirez’s towering shot go a foot or two wide of the right field foul pole. Seattle pitchers issued seven walks, with three scoring.
Cano hit his 17th home run in the first inning, then added a mammoth shot with one out in the eighth. Cano is well ahead of the pace he had during his career-high, 33-homer season in 2012 with the Yankees. He hit 21 last season. Seattle out-hit the Indians 13-7 but had two runners thrown out and left nine others stranded.
“That’s the game. Not every at-bat you’re going to succeed. I’ll go home and put this game aside.” – Cano, on striking out with the game on the line after hitting two homers.
CF Leonys Martin, eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Friday, was supposed to make a one-game rehab stint at Tacoma on Thursday but did not play. The Seattle Times reported that a soggy field led the Mariners to scratch Martin, who is recovering from a hamstring injury. . . RHP Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled each of the next two Fridays, as the Mariners announced he’ll get six days off between starts so that the starting rotation can get a new look. By giving Iwakuma extra time off, it will allow the Mariners to separate left-handers and not pitch them on back-to-back nights after this weekend . . . Both teams had putouts at home plate. Nelson Cruz was thrown out trying to score from first base on a 3B Kyle Seager double to end the first inning, then Cruz gunned down Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor at the plate in the fifth . . . Cano now has three multi-homer games this season and 18 in his career.
The Mariners get another three shots at the division-leading Rangers, and fans at Safeco Field hopes this one looks a lot different than last weekend’s series in Texas. The three-game sweep left Seattle three games back in the AL West standings. The Mariners send Iwakuma (4-5, 4.13 ERA) to the mound, five days after he held the Rangers to one run over seven innings. Texas will send LHP Derek Holland (5-4, 4.53 ERA) to the hill.