Mariners hit 3 HRs to top A’s

SEATTLE — Robinson Cano isn’t looking at the calendar. After the Mariners opened a key weekend series Friday with a 4-2 victory over the Oakland A’s, Cano declared: “The playoffs started for us today.”

Let him explain.

“We lost two (earlier this week) against Houston,” he said. “Now, we came back today. These are the games you want to play. If you want to stay in the race, you have to compete against these guys.

“We play Anaheim next, then we play Houston, Toronto and we play Anaheim again.”

If this was the start, it was all the Mariners could want. They muscled up with three homers in support of lefty James Paxton before closing out the victory with three scoreless innings from their bullpen.

Cano’s homer in the first inning against Oakland starter Jason Hammel set the tone, but it was solo blasts by Logan Morrison and Kendrys Morales after the A’s tied the game that proved decisive.

By winning, the Mariners (80-66) pulled into a tie with Kansas City for the American League’s final wild-card spot. They trail Oakland (81-66) by one-half game for the top wild-card berth.

The Mariners also clinched the season series against the A’s, which could be a factor in tiebreaker scenarios.

Not a bad night.

“I told my guys, this is real simple,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “This is playoff baseball. Averages, slumps…all of those things are out the window. What you did against a guy last time really makes no difference.

“It’s all about grinding your at-bats out, staying in your inner circle and believing in each other. If you do that, you’ve got a good chance to get it done.”

The homers by Morrison and Morales enabled Paxton (6-2) to hand a two-run lead to rookie reliever Carson Smith to start the seventh inning. Paxton gave up two runs, one earned, and four hits in six innings.

“I love his sinker,” McClendon said. “I thought I would throw something at (the A’s) that they hadn’t seen.”

Smith responded by recording five straight outs before issuing a two-out walk in the eighth. When the A’s sent up Adam Dunn as a pinch-hitter, the Mariners countered by bringing in Charlie Furbush.

Dunn flied out to left.

Fernando Rodney closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth inning for his major-league-leading 45th, which also matched the franchise record set by Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2001.

Rodney pumped some extra drama into the evening when he started the ninth by yielding singles to Brandon Moss and Sam Fuld, which put the tying runs on base with no outs and turned over the A’s lineup.

Then three straight outs and…arrow shoot.

The Mariners staked Paxton to a 2-0 lead by scoring single runs in the first two innings, but A’s pulled even by scoring single runs in the third and fourth.

Paxton walked three in the third inning but stranded three runners by striking out Jed Lowrie. When Lowrie swung through the third strike, Paxton reacted with a Felix Hernandez-style show of emotion.

“Got a little fired up,” Paxton admitted. “I got that from (Hernandez), I think. That was a big point in the game right there. I’ve got to get that guy out to keep us in the game. It was just a big moment.”

Hammel (2-6) had retired nine in a row before Morrison drove a 1-0 fastball into right-field seats with one out in the fifth inning for a 3-2 lead.

The A’s pulled Hammel for a pinch-hitter in the sixth (because they surrendered their DH earlier in the game). Hammel gave up three runs and four hits in five innings.

Billy Burns lined a pinch single, for his first major-league hit, and stole second, but Paxton retired the next two hitters.

Eric O’Flaherty replaced Hammel to start the sixth and yielded a one-out single to Cano on a grounder into center.

Cano was thrown out attempting to steal, but Morales hit O’Flaherty’s next pitch over the right-center wall for a 4-2 lead.

That’s how it ended.

And now?

“We played a good game today,” Cano said, “but now we’ve got to get ready for tomorrow.”

Just like postseason.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Who’s that frog? A local high school tennis player, that’s who

Arlington tennis player Robbie Balderas worked as AquaSox mascot Webbly this season, and the busy junior also runs a landscaping business.

Mountlake Terrace’s Zaveon Jones is pulled to the ground by a diving Nicholas Mouser of Monroe on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Swarming Monroe defense keys win over Terrace in Wesco 3A South showdown

The Bearcats slow down the Hawks’ potent ground game, and quarterback Blake Springer tosses three TDs in a 35-10 victory.

Arlington players lift the Stilly Cup in the air after beating Stanwood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington reclaims Stilly Cup after short hiatus, routs Stanwood 42-7

Leyton Martin registers 277 yards, 4 TDs as Eagles notch fifth straight game with at least six TDs.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Marysville Pilchuck’s Dominik Kendrick (9) runs with the ball during a football game between Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Marysville Pilchuck takes the win, 36-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville Pilchuck proud of 4-0 start, but has loftier goals

The Tomahawks aren’t listening to the outside noise, including a No. 1 WIAA RPI ranking, as a tough stretch lies ahead.

Stanwood players react to their coach bringing them the Stilly Cup on Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington. The Spartans snapped a 12-game losing streak in the rivalry matchup last year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
4 games to watch in Week 5 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 5.

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
MLB investigating Astros pitcher’s alleged use of homophobic slur

The incident occurred during a heated exchange between Houston’s Hector Neris and M’s star Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read