Twelve hours after a brutal loss, the Mariners saved one of their best for the final road game of the season, scoring seven runs over the first three innings Wednesday and cruising to an easy 12-4 thrash of the Houston Astros (box). Seattle won two of three at Minute Maid Park, but remained two games back of Baltimore, which holds the second wild-card playoff spot and beat Toronto 3-2 later Wednesday.
On the game’s first pitch, LF Norichika Aoki singled to short off ex-Mariners pitcher Doug Fister. RF Seth Smith walked on four pitches. 2B Robinson Cano hit his 36th home run of the season into the left field bleachers to give Seattle the quickest possible big lead and end any thoughts of a hangover from the 8-4 loss that included four unearned runs.
With two outs and one on in the eighth inning, reliever Pat Neshek walked Cano, bringing up 3B Kyle Seager. Seager hit a three-run shot to right field to complete the scoring. Smith had a two-run single in the second.
CF Leonys Martin (3-for-4, BB), Aoki (2-for-3, BB), C Mike Zunino (1-for-4, BB), and SS Ketel Marte (2-for-5) each drove in a run. The Mariners were 7-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
James Paxton (6-7) won the game pitching five innings, allowing six hits and three runs while striking out eight. Paxton threw 29 pitches in the first inning, leading to his early exit.
Replacing Paxton in the sixth, Nick Vincent gave up a solo home run to C Evan Gattis on his first pitch to make it 7-4. Vincent was pulled without an out after surrendering hits to the next two batters. Evan Scribner came on to shut things down, with two strikeouts and a hit over two innings.
The Mariners (84-74) played the only day game. The Orioles (86-72) won at Toronto on a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth by Hyun Soo Kim. The Detroit Tigers (85-73) stayed a game ahead of the Mariners by beating Cleveland, the AL Central champions, 6-3, in a game shortened to five innings by rain.
“Vincent didn’t have his best day today. We went to Scribner and he certainly picked us up when we really needed it.” – Mariners manager Scott Servais
“We’ve been playing playoff games since the beginning of this month. All we can do is win ballgames. We’re together.” – Martin
Cano finished the year batting .355 against the Astros, including nine home runs and 25 RBI in 19 games . . . Cano’s 36th homer tied his career high . . . Seager’s home run brought his RBI count to 99 . . . Seattle finished 42-39 on the road, the eighth time in club history to post a winning road record, but only the second time in the past 13 seasons (2004) . . . It was the 12th time that Mariners have scored 10 or more runs . . . Seattle is 9-6 in rubber games . . . The game was the final time Minute Maid Park would contain Tal’s Hill, the iconic incline in center field included in the stadium’s construction in 2000 and widely criticized by opponents.
The Mariners’ final four games of the regular season against the Oakland Athletics begin at 7:10 p.m. Thursday when LHP Ariel Miranda (5-2, 4.10) faces Kendall Graveman (10-11, 4.19).