Cruz homer sparks Mariners to 6-1 win over Rangers
SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners have been waiting for Nelson Cruz to get going. They have been waiting for Dee Gordon to return from the disabled list. And they had been waiting for a victory after two losses at home.
They got all three Thursday night in a 6-1 win over the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
Cruz hit a two-run home run, Gordon came back in full force from a stay on the 10-day DL caused by a fractured big toe, and the Mariners got another effective start by Wade LeBlanc to salvage a split in the four-game series and finish off an impressive May in which they went 18-11.
"There's no easy wins in this league, but our offense really did a nice job tonight," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Just consistent pressure."
Gordon led off the game against Rangers starter Mike Minor with a triple and scored in a close play at home on Jean Segura's shallow sacrifice fly, testing Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara's arm and barely arriving safely with a head-first slide in which his hand beat Texas catcher Robinson Chirino's glove.
"It was very shallow," Servais said. "But nothing surprises me with Dee Gordon when it comes to speed. He wants to challenge it and show everybody he's the fastest man in the world, I think. . It was a really close play, but he was safe."
Cruz padded the Mariners' lead in the third. After Segura hit a one-out double and moved to third on Mitch Haniger's grounder, Cruz hit his 10th homer of the season to left-center field, a 399-foot shot that gave Seattle a 3-0 cushion.
"Obviously not the pitch Mike wanted to make," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Looking to get Cruz to chase there. You know he's in swing mode. . A guy like Cruz, you make a pitch and he can make you pay."
It was Cruz's third homer in six games after a 16-game drought. He also had a sacrifice fly, giving him three RBIs on the night and nine over his last seven games.
LeBlanc, the journeyman left-hander filling in for injured Erasmo Ramirez, continued his brilliant early season work, giving up one run and four hits in five innings despite feeling a bit under the weather. LeBlanc struck out four and walked two.
The only blemish against him was a solo homer by Mazara, the Rangers' outfielder's 13th of the season, which led off the fourth.
"I didn't feel great," said LeBlanc, who earned his first win of the season after five consecutive starts without a decision and posted a 1.72 ERA in May.
"I didn't do a great job of picking up the bullpen, but they did a great job of picking me up."
Relievers James Pazos, Juan Nicasio and Chasen Bradford combined to finish with four scoreless innings.
The Mariners scored twice in the fifth on a throwing error by Texas third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a fielder's choice by Haniger and Cruz's sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.
Ryon Healy added an RBI single in the seventh to cap the scoring.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre returned from the disabled list and singled twice to move past Cap Anson for 22nd place on baseball's all-time hits list with 3,082.
Rangers: Banister said Beltre would split time between DH and third base for the time being. Beltre batted in the cleanup spot on Thursday.
Mariners: With the return of Gordon, the Mariners decided to option infielder Gordon Beckham to Triple-A Tacoma and keep utility man Andrew Romine on the active roster. Servais said Romine's versatility and experience at more positions in the field gave Romine the nod.
Rangers: Texas heads to Anaheim for a weekend series vs. the Angels. Veteran RHP Bartolo Colon (2-2, 3.55 ERA) starts Friday's game against Angels RHP Jaime Barria (4-1, 2.97 ERA).
Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (5-3, 4.93 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday's opener for against Tampa Bay RHP Sergio Romo (1-1, 6.33 ERA).