Down by a run entering the ninth inning, the Mariners exploded for five runs against closer Shawn Tolleson, to rally for an improbable 9-5 win over the Texas Rangers.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Late Tuesday evening, when he finally was able to start soaking in his first win as manager of the Mariners, manager Scott Servais grinned at what the season might hold for his team in 2016.
“We are going to play some crazy games this year, I just know it,” he said.
Well, if the first three games of the season are an indicator, it’s certainly trending toward Servais’ prediction.
Mariners home opener, vs. Oakland at Safeco Field, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Down by a run entering the ninth inning Wednesday, the Mariners exploded for five runs against closer Shawn Tolleson (who had just two blown saves last season) to rally for an improbable 9-5 win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park.
“I told you,” Servais said. “It’s a crazy game. You never know what’s going to happen. Just hang in there, hang in there. It was a fun one.”
No player enjoyed the game and series more than Robinson Cano. The second baseman belted two two-run home runs, including one in the ninth inning to put the game of out reach. He also drew a bases-loaded walk, giving him five RBI. He finished the series with four homers and is the first Mariners player to hit a home run in the first three games of the season. He’s also the first second baseman to do it since Bobby Doerr in 1941.
To put Cano’s scorching start in perspective, he didn’t hit his third home run last season until June 22. His fourth came on June 26 — the Mariners’ 74th game.
“It was a good series,” Cano said. “Not just because of the way I ended up swinging the bat, but the way we ended up coming back, especially in that game and being able to win the series.”
In 2015, the Mariners had just one win in which they entered the ninth inning trailing, according to Stats, Inc. That also was against the Rangers, on April 19 at Safeco Field.
The Mariners return to Seattle for Friday’s home opener against the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field with a 2-1 record and plenty of optimism.
“We’re pretty good,” Servais said. “And we’re starting to come together. The biggest thing is it’s not one guy, it’s not two guys, it’s an entire group. It’s a bullpen group, starting pitchers keeping us in games, a very deep lineup, bench guys, everybody has to contribute.”
That deep lineup made a difference in the ninth. All nine batting spots came to the plate, starting at the bottom of the order. The Mariners scored their five runs before making an out.
Pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki led off with a single to right field. After a failed bunt attempt, Ketel Marte blooped a two-strike pitch into left field to put runners on first and second. The next hitter, Leonys Martin, attempted to move the runners into scoring position with a bunt but didn’t offer at the pitch. Instead, he looped a soft line drive into left field to score the tying run.
“When we had first and second, I thought about bunting, took it off and put it back on,” Servais said. “We were able to execute, and we got a few breaks. Those balls weren’t scorched, but they were hit in the right spot, and sometimes that’s what you need to win on the road.”
With runners on second and third and no outs, Kyle Seager fell behind Tolleson early but worked the count full, laying off a couple borderline pitches. He hammered a 3-2 fastball back up the middle for a two-run single, putting Seattle up 7-5.
“Three great at-bats beforehand to set it up,” Seager said. “You get second and third with the infield in and no outs, that’s a better situation than the guys before me had. They did a great job there. And you’re facing a closer, so those are no easy at-bats. Just looking for a pitch to get out of the infield.”
Cano put the game out of reach moments later, ambushing a first-pitch changeup and launching his second homer of the game into the stands in deep right-center.
“Yeah, I’ve been taking advantage of those pitches right in the middle of the plate,” Cano said. “I’ve been working with (hitting coach) Edgar (Martinez) in spring training, and that’s the goal. Just look for a good pitch to hit and not give away at-bats.”
Steve Cishek pitched a scoreless ninth.
|Cano’s early power surge|
|Robinson Cano is the first Mariners player to hit a home run in the first three games of the season. Here’s a look at his four homers this year compared with when he hit his first four in 2015:|
|Year||HR No. 1||No. 2||No. 3||No. 4|
|2015||April 14 (Game 8)||May 30 (Game 49)||June 22 (Game 71)||June 26 (Game 74)|
|2016||April 4 (Game 1)||April 5 (Game 2)||April 6 (Game 3)||April 6 (Game 3)|