Offense shines for M’s in Paxton’s return
BALTIMORE – This is how it’s supposed to work when everything is right: The hitters at the top of the lineup reaching base and the hitters in the middle of the order driving them in.
It hasn’t happened often for the Mariners this season, and certainly not since the All-Star break. But on Saturday night at Camden Yards it all came together in a 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Newly acquired Austin Jackson, who was batting lead-off, and hot-hitting Dustin Ackley batting behind him, combined for five hits, scored four runs and reached base six times.
Robinson Cano and Kendrys Morales drove in five of the runs, and baseball, particularly scoring runs, seemed pretty easy for a night. The Mariners are now 41-10 when scoring four or more runs.
“That’s a good recipe for winning,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
The first example of that recipe came in the fifth inning with the game tied at 1.
Jackson picked up his first hit for the Mariners with a lead-off single. Ackley, who has been one of the team’s most productive hitters since the All-Star break, doubled to right field to put runners in scoring position.
And unlike in games past, the Mariners didn’t squander the opportunity. Cano belted his eighth homer of the season, hammering a 1-1 changeup over the wall in right field off of Orioles’ starter Miguel Gonzalez to make it 4-1.
“Robby came through big time for us there,” McClendon said. “He loves hitting in this ball park, and tonight was indicative of that.”
All eight of Cano’s homers this season have come with runners on base. It was his 29th home run against the Orioles – the most of any opponent and 15th homer at Camden Yards in his career.
“It’s about time,” Cano joked. “Somebody asked me if I see the ball better here, but I think it’s just a ballpark I’ve been successful in. There’s nothing special.”
The recipe worked again in the top of the ninth inning. Jackson came up with a two-out single to right field. Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter called on his fifth pitcher of the night – lefty T.J. McFarland to face the lefty-hitting Ackley. But the move backfired. Ackley reached on infield single – his third hit of the game. McFarland hit Cano with a pitch to load the bases. Morales cashed in some big insurance runs, hammering a single into right field to make it 6-2 and sending most of the 36,508 in attendance for the exits.
“That was a big hit for us,” McClendon said. “It’s starting to come around for him.”
In addition to the new-look lineup, the Mariners welcomed back starter James Paxton from the disabled list. He wasn’t great, but showed hints of dominance, pitching 41/3 innings and giving up two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Paxton couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning with the 4-1 lead. He gave up a homer to Caleb Joseph and then issued a one-out walk to Markakis. With his pitch count at 83, he was lifted for Dominic Leone, who got the final two outs of the inning and pitched another scoreless inning and was credited with the win.
The Mariners’ bullpen closed it out. Brandon Maurer, Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush combined for two scoreless innings. Fernando Rodney made things interesting in the non-save situation, giving up a run in the ninth on two hits and a walk, but with runners on the corners and the tying run at the plate, he got Machado to ground out to end the game.