DETROIT — Chris Young authored another chapter in his remarkable comeback story Sunday by pitching six scoreless innings as the Mariners leaped back into postseason position with an 8-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
“He’s been huge for us,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “You know exactly what you’re getting every time out there. He goes out, competes and give everything he has. And he’s throwing the ball unbelievable.”
The Mariners eased the way for Young by scoring twice in the first inning and steadily extending their lead. The Tigers helped out with some suspect defense and by failing to capitalize when Young ran into trouble.
Mostly, though, it was Young (12-6) doing what he’s done all season: Pitch to contact and use his defense. He matched a career high for victories; he also won 12 for Texas in 2005.
“We won the game,” Young said. “That’s all I care about. It’s a great win for us. They’re all big at this point. The guys gave me some room for error and allowed me to be aggressive out there.”
The victory boosted the Mariners (67-56) back into the lead for the American League’s final wild-card berth by one-half game over the Tigers (66-56).
“This was a big series,” said Seager, who contributed two hits and three RBI to a balanced 13-hit attack. “We know where we are with them. At the same time, we’ve got to put it behind us now.”
Five Mariners had more than one hit, and six different players scored at least one run. Chris Denorfia had two singles and an RBI triple, while Robinson Cano had two singles and scored three runs.
Denorfia’s three-hit game came after he managed five hits in 27 previous at-bats since arriving July 31 from San Diego. He suggested it was merely the law of averages paying off.
“The result I’m worried about is how I’m hitting the ball,” he said. “I’ve felt really good since I’ve been here. I’ve been doing good work with HoJo (hitting coach Howard Johnson), and I’ve got my swing where I need it to be.”
The Mariners scored twice in the first inning, once in the third, once in fifth, three times in the sixth and once in the eighth. Tom Wilhelmsen, Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina closed out Young’s victory.
Detroit starter Robbie Ray (1-3) gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings before the Mariners slapped just-promoted/recently-signed/Oakland castoff Jim Johnson for three runs in the sixth.
The highlight/lowlight over the closing innings came in the Detroit seventh when umpire Tony Randazzo ejected manager Lloyd McClendon for a second straight game. The Mariners led 7-0 at the time.
At issue was McClendon’s reaction to an appeal call by Randazzo at third base on a check swing. Randazzo ruled Alex Avila checked his swing on a full-count pitch from Wilhelmsen.
“Took his hand,” Randazzo said, “and shooed off my call.”
McClendon never left the dugout prior to the ejection. When he learned of Randazzo’s decision, McClendon consulted crew chief Brian Gorman at first base before exiting.
Randazzo was at the plate in Saturday’s game when he ejected McClendon. It all served as little more than a late sideshow to another Young gem.
The basics on Young’s story are well-known but merit summarization: He battled shoulder injuries for years and believed his career at an end when he opted last June to undergo a thoracic outlet decompression procedure.
Encouraged by a lack of pain, Young tried to win a job at Washington but was released late in spring. He signed March 27 with the Mariners after the club reached a negotiating impasse with veteran Randy Wolf.
Young now has a 3.07 ERA for 25 appearances.
“Chris did a heck of a job for us once again,” McClendon said. “He pitched to a very tough lineup and gave us six solid innings. Our offense scored some runs, and it was a pretty good game for us.”