SEATTLE – Chris Young and Robinson Cano arrived in Seattle with fanfare at opposite ends of the spectrum. Seattle couldn’t celebrate the arrival of Cano enough. Young was a last-second addition plucked at the end of spring training.
Each has proven invaluable in getting Seattle to .500 at the 50-game mark of the season.
Young pitched shutout ball until Albert Pujols homered in the seventh inning, Cano had three hits and two RBIs to raise his average to .332, and the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 on Monday at Safeco Field.
While the production from Cano was expected after he signed a $240 million contract to join the Mariners, what Young has contributed is a surprise, especially with Seattle down two expected starters in the rotation.
“I was trying to find the adjectives to describe this guy today, but what a godsend he’s been for this rotation,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s been tremendous. In and out, up and down, he never wavers and knows what he wants to do.”
Young (4-2) kept the Angels without a hit until Kole Calhoun’s single with one out in the sixth. An inning later, Pujols hit his 506th career home run, pulling within three of Gary Sheffield for 24th on baseball’s all-time list.
Young lasted only two more batters after Pujols’ homer, getting pulled after issuing a walk to Raul Ibanez. He struck out five and walked three.
But Young’s strong pitching at Safeco Field continued. In four starts at home this season, Young is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA.
It was a solid rebound for Young, who got knocked around in losing his previous two starts. He gave up 10 hits and five runs in losing to Minnesota and allowed four runs and seven hits in a loss to Texas last week.
In Young’s last seven starts, the Mariners are 5-2. It’s an impressive turnaround considering Young spent all of last season out of the majors after shoulder surgery.
“When you’re out there competing, you expect to win. I wouldn’t take the ball if I didn’t expect to go out and compete and win,” Young said. “To say it’s surprising, after all the hard work and time rehabbing I put in I would say no.”
After McClendon lamented Seattle’s production following losses over the weekend to Houston, the Mariners responded with five runs in the first two innings off Tyler Skaggs (4-2). Seattle scored three unearned runs with two outs in the second.
The top three hitters in Seattle’s order did the damage against Skaggs. James Jones scored twice, and Michael Saunders tripled, singled and scored two runs.
Cano singled in each of his first three at-bats a day after losing a 31-game streak of reaching base
“That’s just part of the game sometimes where you take advantage of a pitch over the plate,” Cano said. “Sometimes there are games where they throw you that same pitch and you foul it off. … We took advantage and that’s what we want. Those are the little things you want to do.”
Skaggs wasn’t helped by his defense in the second inning when shortstop Erick Aybar couldn’t handle Jones’ one-hopper with two outs. The miscue allowed Dustin Ackley to score and opened the door for two more runs on Saunders’ triple and Cano’s infield single.
Despite the early trouble, Skaggs threw seven innings and struck out eight.
“Tyler understood keeping us in the game,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He made pitches, got on a great streak and pitched seven innings. But the damage was done early.”