Nelson Cruz hit a go-ahead home run Sunday that lifted the Mariners to their fourth consecutive win and a rate sweep of the White Sox in Chicago.
The Mariners came out of the All-Star break knowing they would need more effective starting pitching in order to remain wild-card worthy. Except for Sunday, when they fell into a 5-0 hole after three innings against the White Sox, yet rallied to win 7-6 (box), making for a rare sweep in Chicago and a hot start to the second half.
Tuesday All-Star Game (American League 2, National League 1): Robinson Cano drove an 81 mph Wade Davis breaking ball over the fence in right, giving the AL a 10th-inning victory. Cano, who made the All-Star team as an injury replacement for New York’s Starlin Castro, became the third Seattle player to win the game’s MVP award, joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1992) and Ichiro (2007). Seattle’s other All-Star rep, Nelson Cruz, went 0-for-2.
Friday (Mariners 4, White Sox 2): Cano hit a three-run shot in the third inning, helping James Paxton open the second half with a road victory. Paxton (8-3) struck out nine without a walk while pitching six effective innings in his third consecutive victory.
Saturday (Mariners 4, White Sox 3): Cruz and Kyle Seager homered in support of Felix Hernandez. Seattle played one of its sloppiest contests of the season with three errors. Hernandez also plunked Jose Abreu twice and threw a wild pitch.
Sunday (Mariners 7, White Sox 6): Cruz lined a 3-0 pitch from Chris Beck over the fence in left in the 10th inning, giving Seattle (46-47) its fourth consecutive victory. Trailing 5-0, they worked their way back with homers from Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia (three-run shot) before Cruz decided it.
The fact that they won a series there at all is noteworthy. Seattle had not taken a series against the White Sox in the Windy City since Aug. 10-12, 2007, when it won two of three. The Mariners then went 0-10-1 before the sweep, Seattle’s first in Chicago since 2003.
Innings of the week
Mariners 3rd Friday: Cano, who went deep in the 10th inning of the American League’s 2-1 All-Star victory, walked on four pitches in the first. He came up again with two on and one out in the third and belted James Shields‘ first pitch for his 18th homer, giving the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
White Sox 3rd & 5th Saturday: Chicago loaded the bases with no outs in both frames and came away with one run in each, helping Hernandez to his fifth victory. Chicago went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
Mariners 5th Sunday: With the White Sox leading 5-2 after earlier leading 5-0, Jean Segura scored Ben Gamel with sacrifice fly. After Mike Zunino singled and Taylor Motter reached on a fielder’s choice, Danny Valencia hit a three-run homer to tie.
Good week/bad week
Good: Cano won the All-Star MVP award with a 10th-inning homer Tuesday and blasted a three-run shot Friday . . . Jean Segura reached the necessary number of plate appearances to qualify for hitting leaderboards. With four hits in Chicago, he moved into second place in the AL batting race with a .348 average (Houston’s Jose Altuve, .350) . . . Diaz recorded three saves, notching his 16th Sunday by striking out the side in the 10th inning on 12 pitches . . . Bad: Rookie starter Andrew Moore was rocked for five earned runs on eight hits Sunday in three innings, but avoided a loss when the Mariners rallied.
Not in the box score
“It’s always good to be able to accomplish something great, especially in front of my family. As a kid, you watch Ken Griffey and all those guys come to the All-Star Game and win MVPs, and you want to get that feeling.” – Cano
“When you get good pitching, you don’t have to score that many runs, like we’ve been doing the last couple days.” — Cruz Saturday
“It was a battle the whole game. Couldn’t find my rhythm. I was all over the place.”– Hernandez
“We know we can score runs and are never truly out of a game. (Derek Holland) threw one up in the zone.” — Danny Valencia, after hitting a three-run homer Sunday
“We’re down 5-0 early in the game, but the guys just kept hanging in there and our bullpen was outstanding. That was probably the best we’ve seen of Eddie Diaz all year.” — Manager Scott Servais Sunday
Friday: Promoted Nasusel Cabrera to interim bullpen coach, replacing Mike Hampton, who resigned.
The Mariners play three at Houston Monday through Wednesday before returning to Safeco Field Thursday to host the New York Yankees in a four-game set to begin 10-game home stand. LHP Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.15) will throw the series opener against the Astros opposite RHP Lance McCullers (7-2, 3.05).