via Texas Rangers
ARLINGTON — Their starting pitcher didn’t have his best stuff, and neither did their closer. Their defense was spotty. But fortunately for the Mariners, their hitters had enough power to get past the Rangers in an uneven 9-7 win on Saturday night.
“We got it done,” manager Scott Servais said. “Some nights it’s ugly, but the key is you get it done.”
Homers by Robinson Cano and Mitch Haniger in a five-run seventh inning helped wage a comeback win, continuing an offensive awakening that began the previous night at Globe Life Park.
The Mariners eked out the win even though James Paxton lasted only four innings, Edwin Diaz needed a career-high 40 pitches to close out the game, and the defense turned a couple of would-be outs into base hits. In the end, just before midnight CT after an 85-minute rain-delayed start, the seventh-inning outburst made the difference.
“It was on our offense tonight and our guys stepped up, got some big hits, put a nice rally together, and it was enough,” Servais said.
Rangers starter Bartolo Colon left with a two-run lead after 5 2/3 innings, and then the Mariners knocked around reliever Alex Claudio the next frame. They logged four consecutive hits off Claudio — Guillermo Heredia’s pinch-hit single, Dee Gordon’s bloop double, Jean Segura’s RBI double and Cano’s dinger.
After reliever Chris Martin came in for Claudio and recorded two outs, Haniger smashed a ball over the left-field fence for the Mariners’ final run. Cano paced the offense with three hits, three runs and two RBIs on his go-ahead homer in the seventh.
Paxton and Diaz both had trouble finding home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom’s strike zone, as both the left-handed starter and the right-handed closer walked three batters each.
For Paxton, the four-inning outing was his shortest of the season. He threw 32 pitches in the first inning and 33 in the third as his pitch count ballooned and kept him from working any deeper into the game.
“I didn’t have anything sharp tonight … I was basically just kind of spraying hard fastballs up there, that was about it,” Paxton said.
Tasked with getting a four-out save with righty Juan Nicasio on a rest day, Diaz walked three batters in the ninth, but managed to earn his eighth save in as many opportunities this season.
Before the final out, a bases-loaded flyout by Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Servais and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. used the last of their mound visits to reassure Diaz.
“Stay relaxed and make your pitch, you’re the man here, you’ve been in this situation before, get the out,'” Diaz said of the message. “Do your job, you’ll be fine.”
The offense did. Coming off a stretch of five games in which they scored two or fewer runs, the Mariners have scored 15 runs on 27 hits in the first two games of this three-game series.
“Any time you face really tough pitching, sometimes it gets the best of hitters, but we just go out there and battle and keep swinging the bats, and keep our heads up, and it was great tonight and last night,” Haniger said.