James Paxton notched his first win in six weeks and Robinson Cano lashed four hits and drove in a pair of runs as the Mariners crushed the last-place (AL Central) Minnesota Twins 10-1 Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis (box). The win, though, did little to enhance Seattle’s chances of claiming the American League’s second wild card spot as the other contenders save Houston also won.
Toronto (84-69) beat the Yankees 9-0 to retain control of the first wild card slot and Detroit (83-70) beat Kansas City 8-3 to keep a grip on the second. Baltimore (83-71) also won, 3-2 over Arizona, as ex-Mariner Mark Trumbo hit his 44th home run, a walk-off job in the 12th inning.
The Mariners are 81-72, just ahead of the Astros (81-73), who lost to the Angels, 10-6. The Mariners trail the Tigers by two games with nine to play.
The Mariners took a 2-0 lead into the seventh (RBI singles by Cano and Mike Zunino) and then busted loose for six runs, the key blow a two-run double by Nelson Cruz. Kyle Seager also drove in a run with a double and Seattle plated two more after single by Zunino in conjunction with two fielding errors by left fielder Robbie Grossman.
The Mariners collected 12 hits off six Minnesota pitchers with Cano (4-for-5), Cruz (2-for-5, 38th homer, four RBIs) and Zunino (2-for-4) all producing multi-hit games. Cruz and Seager have 96 RBIs and Cano 92 . . . Cano, Cruz and Seager went a combined 7-for-13 with seven RBIs . . . Cano lifted his average to .296 . . . Cruz lost a three-run homer in the third when CF Byron Buxton made a leaping catch at the wall on a ball Cruz hit 420 feet . . . SS Ketel Marte’s struggles continued. He went 0-for-4 and hasn’t had a hit in his past 19 at-bats . . . The Mariners went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
Paxton (5-7, 3.72) won for the first time since Aug. 7. He worked seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with nine strikeouts and no walks. Paxton has allowed two or fewer earned runs in his past three outings . . .Dan Altavilla and Arquimedes Caminero pitched scoreless innings after Paxton departed.
“We got an outstanding outing by James Paxton, who had a very good curveball tonight. We certainly needed that. He was in total control. He was attacking the hitters and trusting his stuff. It was nice to see the middle of our lineup come together like that. Those guys are huge, they’ve carried us all year, and it’s nice to see them get going again. We had good at-bats up and down the lineup all night.” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
Friday’s game started 45 minutes late due to heavy rain . . . The Mariners, 1-3 vs. the Twins this season, have won 11 of their past 15, including their past seven road games . . . Seattle is 15-17 against AL Central . . . The Mariners are 39-37 on the road and 24-18-8 in overall series.
The Mariners Friday named Justin Hollander their director of baseball operations. Hollander, 37, spent the past nine seasons in the Angels front office serving in a variety of capacities, including director of baseball operations and director of player personnel. Hollander is a native of Ohio and a graduate of Ohio State.
The middle game of the three-game set Saturday at 4:10 p.m., PT. LHP Ariel Miranda (5-1, 3.88) will throw for Seattle opposite RHP Tyler Duffy (8-11, 6.39). After the series concludes Sunday (11:10 a.m., PT), the Mariners move to Houston for the final three road contests of the regular season.