Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Nelson Cruz’s eighth-inning homer guides Mariners to sweep

Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, right, is embraced by Kyle Seager after Cruz’s solo home run against the Detroit Tigers during the eighth inning  Wednesday. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, right, is embraced by Kyle Seager after Cruz’s solo home run against the Detroit Tigers during the eighth inning Wednesday. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
By Bob Dutton Tacoma News Tribune

SEATTLE – There was little to separate Felix Hernandez and Detroit’s Justin Verlander over the first seven innings Tuesday at Safeco Field.

The two long-time aces matched one another in a throwback pitchers’ duel.

Then Nelson Cruz crushed a fastball from Tigers reliever Justin Wilson with one out in the eighth inning that lifted the Mariners to a 3-1 victory and a three-game sweep.

Leonys Martin’s two-out RBI single provided an insurance run for Nick Vincent, who closed out the game because the Mariners wanted to stay away from rookie closer Edwin Diaz.

Hernandez and Verlander were magnificent but each settled for a no-decision. Archimedes Caminero (1-0) got the victory for pitching a one-two-three eighth inning when Nick Vincent closed out the game.

Vincent got his second save of the season – in just his second appearance since returning from a 32-game stay on the disabled list. Diaz had pitched in six of the previous eight games.

Wilson (2-4) was the loser.

Kyle Seager followed Cruz’s homer with a single and went to second on a two-out walk to Adam Lind before Martin flicked a soft single into left field.

The victory extended the Mariners’ season-high winning streak to six games and completed an 8-2 homestand. They improved to 60-53 and pulled to within 1 1/2 games of Boston in the race for the final wild-card berth.

The Mariners had a chance to get the lead for Hernandez in the seventh inning after Martin led off with a single, but Ketel Marte fouled off two attempts at a sacrifice bunt before popping out to center.

Verlander then held the tie by retiring Nori Aoki and Seth Smith on fly balls to left.

That left Hernandez with a no-decision after limiting Detroit to one run and three hits in seventh innings. He struck out eight and walked four while throwing a season-high 117 pitches.

Caminero replaced Hernandez to start the eighth inning – and his first pitch was 3 feet outside and went untouched to the backstop. No matter. Caminero worked a 1-2-3 inning.

And that ensured Verlander would also get a no-decision after holding the Mariners to one run and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two while throwing a season-high 121 pitches.

Wilson replaced Verlander to start the Mariners’ eighth. Wilson retired Robinson Cano on a fly to deep right, but Cruz followed with a 422-foot drive to center.

Hernandez opened the game with his first one-two-three first inning in five starts since returning from the disabled list. He had allowed three runs in three of the previous four.

The Mariners grabbed a 1-0 lead on Cano’s two-out homer in the first inning, a 369-foot slicing drive to left on a 1-2 change-up from Verlander.

Hernandez pitched around leadoff singles in the second and third innings but paid for a leadoff walk in the fourth to Ian Kinsler, who stole second – on a overturned call after a replay.

Kinsler moved to third on Tyler Collins’ grounder to first but held on Miguel Cabrera’s fly to short right. After Victor Martinez walked, J.D. Martinez yanked an RBI single through the left side.

The Mariners opened the fifth inning with singles by Aoki and Smith. Aoki moved to third on Cano’s fly to right, but Cruz grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Hernandez lost a 13-pitch battle to Cabrera with two outs in the sixth. Cabrera drew a walk after fouling off six 3-2 pitches. Hernandez then walked Victor Martinez after jumping ahead 1-2 in the count.

The Tigers stranded both runners when J.D. Martinez struck out, but the 28-pitch inning pushed Hernandez’s total to 103.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.