Seattle scored five runs in the seventh inning, turning a two-run deficit into a three-run lead and pulling away for a 9-7 victory.
ARLINGTON, Texas — When it’s right, the Mariners offense can be similar to the massive deluge that delayed Saturday night’s game at Globe Life Park — you know it’s coming, you know it could be overwhelming, and there isn’t much you can do but wait until it works itself out.
On a night when they got a suboptimal outing from their best starting pitcher and didn’t look particularly adept in the field behind him or the rest of their pitchers, the Mariners turned to their offense and just bashed their way to victory.
Seattle scored five runs in the seventh inning, turning a two-run deficit into a three-run lead in an eventual 9-7 victory over the Rangers.
“Our offense was outstanding tonight,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s exactly what we needed. We needed to put some big numbers up tonight. It was on our offense tonight. And our guys stepped up and got some big hits, put a nice rally together and it was enough.”
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The Mariners (11-8) are 9-1 in games when they score more than four runs.
After four games of misery in their previous series against the Astros, the Mariners hitters have feasted on the Texas bullpen during the first two games of this series, scoring a combined 10 runs.
Down 6-4, Seattle started the seventh with five straight hits. They scored four runs off light-tossing lefty Alex Claudio to take the lead. Guillermo Heredia led off with a pinch-hit, infield single, Dee Gordon followed with a looping double to third and Jean Segura plated both runners with a double into the left-field corner to tie the game.
“We had some good at-bats there,” Servais said. “We’ve seen a lot of him (Claudio) and he’s had our number, so it was nice to get back at him tonight.”
Robinson Cano really got back at him, giving Seattle the lead for good, ambushing the first pitch he saw from Claudio. He lifted a towering fly ball that carried over the wall for a two-run homer and an 8-6 lead.
“I know he’s going to throw strikes,” Cano said. “I wanted to be ready from the first pitch.”
Later in the inning, Mitch Haniger continued his torment of the Rangers, blasting a solo homer off right-hander Chris Martin, giving Haniger homers in back-to-back games. He has a team-high six homers and 19 runs batted in.
Even with the late offense, it wasn’t simple for the Mariners to close it out. With Juan Nicasio unavailable, Servais had to extend Edwin Diaz to a four-out save to secure the win. Diaz’s eighth save was an adventure in the ninth. He should have been out of the inning early, but Cano booted a potential game-ending double-play ball, which also allowed a run to score.
“It skipped up on me and caught me in the thumb,” he said.
So instead, Diaz soon found himself with the bases loaded and two outs, having walked Joey Gallo and Shin Soo-Choo. But he got a long fly ball to left to end the drama.
“I lost my control a little bit, but I got the outs,” Diaz said. “I was just rushing with my mechanics.”
The pitching duel between Big Maple and Big Sexy never really materialized, though the ageless Bartolo Colon, all of 44 years young, did outperform his younger counterpart. It wasn’t hard to do considering how much James Paxton struggled.
Paxton was fighting an inconsistent strike zone from home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom, his own meandering command with his pitches, a pesky group of Rangers hitters that rarely made at-bats simple and not much help from a defense that went from stellar Friday to stumbling Saturday.
“It was one of the nights where I tried to do everything I could do and just couldn’t get it done,” Paxton said. “I didn’t have anything sharp tonight. I was basically just spraying hard fastballs up there.”
It took him 32 pitches to get out of the first inning while allowing a run. A 19-pitch second inning when he struck out the side was followed by a 33-pitch marathon of a third inning when the Rangers tacked on three more runs for a 4-1 lead. Paxton pitched just four innings, giving up five runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. It was a forgettable outing.
“It’s been a while since I’ve felt like nothing was wrong with mechanics and I just didn’t have a feel for where the ball was going,” he said. “I’ve had games where something is wrong and the fastball wasn’t coming out good and I was spraying it. But that was the first time in a while where I was throwing it hard and the ball wasn’t going where I wanted it to go.”
The Mariners eventually solved the riddle of Colon’s moving fastball. In the fourth inning, after appearing to hit a two-run homer over the foul pole — only to have third-base umpire Eric Cooper call it foul and the replay crew in New York uphold the call — Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run homer into the second deck on the very next pitch from Colon.