The streaking Mariners won their sixth in a row, with Nelson Cruz delivering a tie-breaking solo homer in eighth inning Friday night at Safeco Field to complete a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Cruz’s 25th homer paved the way for a 3-1 win (box) as Seattle (60-53) moved to within 1½ games of the final AL wild-card spot.
After a splendid pitching duel between starters Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander ended when both were taken out after seven innings, Cruz welcomed reliever Justin Wilson with a one-out, 421-foot bomb to center for a 2-1 lead.
King Felix was not exactly at the top of his game but was plenty good enough to match the Tigers’ ace in a rare duel of Cy Young Award winners. Hernandez allowed one run off three hits over seven innings, although he needed 117 pitches to do it. He walked four and teetered, but battled through seven innings to help preserve a Seattle bullpen that couldn’t tolerate a short start after Tuesday’s marathon.
Arquimedes Caminero came on in the eighth and had a 1-2-3 inning on his third consecutive night of work. With Edwin Diaz getting a deserved night off, Nick Vincent filled in as closer and earned his second save of the season.
Cruz went 3-for-4, including a double, but he wasn’t the only live bat. 2B Robinson Cano added a pair of hits, including a first-inning solo homer, while CF Leonys Martin added an insurance run with a single in the eighth.
“It was just what it was billed to be: Two good pitchers going at it. And they both pitched very well. The difference was the eighth inning.” –Tigers manager Brad Ausmus after Hernandez and Verlander battled to a 1-1 tie through seven innings, both throwing more than 115 pitches
LHP Charlie Furbush, 30, who looked like he might be on a comeback after missing more than a year with a shoulder issue, is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The surgery should keep the reliever out another 12 to 18 months, the team said. He went on the disabled list in July a year ago with what was called biceps tendinitis . . . LF Guillermo Heredia was rewarded for his three-hit Tuesday with a trip back to Tacoma. Heredia had minor-league options, and the Mariners desperately needed a bullpen arm after using eight pitchers in the 15-inning game, so Heredia made room for RHP Jarrett Grube. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Grube, Seattle designated Tacoma INF Luis Sardinas for assignment . . . LHP James Paxton, scheduled to be back on the mound Saturday in Oakland, is now targeted to return early next week. Paxton took a line drive off his left elbow in the ninth inning of Sunday’s win over the Angels. The off day Thursday will allow the Mariners to skip his next start.
A well-deserved off day (considering Tuesday’s game of nearly five hours) is on tap for Thursday. The Mariners return to play in Oakland Friday, and it looks as if LHP Ariel Miranda (1-0, 6.00 ERA) will start despite an inning of relief Tuesday night. It was Miranda’s scheduled day to do side bullpen work, and he threw just 17 pitches in the 15th inning. The A’s counter with fellow southpaw Sean Manaea (3-7, 4.58 ERA).