DETROIT — These days, run support isn’t much of an issue for Felix Hernandez. Even when he struggles, Seattle often has a chance to win.
Hernandez labored through five innings Saturday night, but Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the fifth, and the Mariners slugged their way to a 9-5 victory over Detroit, salvaging a split of their doubleheader with the Tigers. Hernandez allowed five runs and eight hits, but acting manager Manny Acta let him finish the fifth, putting the right-hander in line for the win.
“He has earned the right, because of his status and his career, to finish the fifth inning,” Acta said.
Detroit won the opener 4-3, thanks in part to a terrific catch by center fielder JaCoby Jones in the ninth inning. The nightcap didn’t go nearly as well for the Tigers. Nicholas Castellanos left in the second inning because of an injured finger on his left hand, and manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the fifth.
Cano and Ryon Healy homered for the Mariners in the second game, and John Hicks went deep for the Tigers. Detroit’s Jose Iglesias hit a two-run shot in the first game.
Hernandez’s run support in Seattle was once so paltry that he went 13-12 en route to a Cy Young Award in 2010. Now, he has a winning record despite an ERA that increased to 5.66 with Saturday’s outing.
Healy’s two-run homer off Michael Fulmer (1-3) put Seattle up 3-2 in the fourth inning of the second game, and Cano made it 6-2 in the fifth with his fourth home run of the season.
Hernandez (5-3) struck out seven and walked two.
Gardenhire was ejected for the second time this season, and he wasn’t the only one frustrated with plate umpire Carlos Torres in the nightcap.
“He was kind of talking to everybody and wanting to have the last word, and I think that’s why Gardy got ejected,” Fulmer said. “He kind of told Carlos just to do his job and stop talking to our players.”
In the first game, Matthew Boyd (2-3) allowed three runs and three hits in six-plus innings for the Tigers. Detroit broke a 1-all tie in the sixth against Seattle starter Marco Gonzales (3-3). With two out and nobody on, Jones hit a hard grounder that bounced off the left leg of third baseman Kyle Seager and into foul territory for a double. Grayson Greiner followed with a single to right, and Jones scored on a very close play at the plate.
The Mariners didn’t challenge the call, and their inning quickly became even worse when Iglesias hit a drive to left that gave Detroit a 4-1 lead.
“It needed to be challenged after the fact when I saw it,” said Acta, who was filling in for Scott Servais as Seattle’s manager. “We had a miscommunication over the phone about it and I’m not going to point fingers. We lose as a team. It shouldn’t happen but it did.”
Acta, normally the bench coach for Seattle, was managing because Servais was away to watch his daughter receive a master’s degree at Mississippi.
Three relievers finished the opener for Detroit, with Shane Greene pitching the ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances. After a one-out walk, Jones made a diving catch of Healy’s sinking liner. Mike Zunino followed with a single, putting men on first and third, and another walk loaded the bases.
Dee Gordon grounded out to first to end it.
The teams were rained out Friday night, forcing the Tigers to play a doubleheader for the fourth time this season.