By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
ARLINGTON, Texas — Recall that it was one of the Seattle Mariners’ more disappointing efforts of the season when, in mid-April, they rolled over like trained pups in a loss to Texas left-hander Robbie Ross Jr.
Not this time.
The Mariners knocked out Ross in a six-run second inning Thursday night and rollicked to a 10-2 victory over the last-place Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Robinson Cano matched a season high with four RBI, while Jesus Sucre ignited a six-run second inning and a three-run third with RBI singles. Chris Denorfia also hit his first homer since arriving in a July 31 trade.
“If we want to stay in (the race),” Cano said, “we’ve got to start early. Not wait until late in the game. We have to take advantage when we play teams that are out of the race. You don’t want to play at their level.”
It still wasn’t quite as easy as that makes it sound.
Mariners starting pitcher Roenis Elias, presented with that big early cushion, labored through his five innings but, thanks in part to three double plays, limited the damage to one run before handing the game to Dominic Leone.
“It helps (to get those runs),” Elias said, “but you’ve got to go out and make your pitches and get those outs whether it’s a big lead or not.”
Elias improved to 10-12, which means the Mariners joined the Angels and Royals as American League clubs with four pitchers at 10 or more victories.
“He was a little shaky with his command at times,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “but he made big pitches when he needed to and got through five.”
Leone, Brandon Maurer, Tom Wilhelmsen and Danny Farquhar had few problems over the final four innings and closed out the Mariners’ fourth victory in five games.
The Mariners matched a season best in moving 13 games over .500 at 76-63 and remained one-half game behind Detroit in the battle for the AL’s final wild-card berth.
Ross worked 72⁄3 innings on April 15 in 5-0 victory over the Mariners in their first visit this season to Globe Life. That sent them into an eight-game spin.
“That was in April,” Cano said. “It’s now September. It’s (almost) five months later. Everybody is getting tired. When we faced him before, he was 94-95 (mph). Today, he was 92.
“We took advantage early, and we weren’t chasing pitches. When we don’t chase pitches, we’re a team that can make a lot of damage.”
That’s what happened in the six-run second inning.
Ross (2-6) provided an opportunity with two-out walks to Denorfia and Chris Taylor before Sucre drove an RBI single to left.
“That was a big hit,” Sucre said. “I know I’ve got (Austin) Jackson, (Dustin) Ackley and Cano behind me. I knew it could be big if I got on base. We got what? Six runs? That was the game right there.”
Jackson followed Sucre with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead. A walk to Ackley loaded the bases for Cano, who drove a two-out single into center. Kendrys Morales added another run with an RBI single up the middle.
That finished Ross.
In came Jon Edwards, who surrendered an RBI single to Kyle Seager before striking out Corey Hart.
After Elias escaped a first-and-third threat in the Texas second inning, the Mariners struck for three more runs in the third after Edwards started the inning with walks to Denorfia and Taylor.
Sucre then drove a grounder through third baseman Adrian Beltre that scored Denorfia. Cano added a two-run double later in the inning against Michael Kirkman for a 9-0 lead.
Elias stumbled through the third inning but limited the damage to one run despite allowing three singles and a walk. He escaped the fourth and fifth innings with double-play grounders before the Mariners went to their bullpen.
Denorfia’s homer, a one-out drive in the seventh, closed the scoring.