Another bipolar week for the Mariners: They followed a 19-9 drubbing in Detroit Tuesday with an historic flip-flop, an 8-0 win Wednesday. They threatened to exit the AL West cellar (standings) with a three-game winning streak, but sabotaged themselves in typical fashion with a pair of losses that included Sunday’s (trailed 9-1, lost 12-4) upturned rake in Cleveland (box). They also made 13 roster moves, to little avail — they couldn’t avoid another losing April.
Tuesday — Tigers 19, Mariners : Detroit scored nine runs in a fifth-inning onslaught and went on to rout the Mariners (8-13) at Comerica Park. The teams combined for 40 hits and 14 walks and 55 combined base runners, most in any MLB game since 2008 (box).
Wednesday — Mariners 8, Tigers 0: James Paxton struck out nine in seven innings, and Nelson Cruz and Guillermo Heredia homered to lift the Mariners (box).
Thursday — Mariners 2, Tigers 1: Ben Gamel’s go-ahead single plated Kyle Seager and the Mariners notched their first road series win. Seattle closed the series with a pair of one-run victories after the opening blowout, outscoring the Tigers 10-1 in the final two games (box).
Friday — Mariners 3, Indians 1: Ariel Miranda and two relievers combined to strike out 14 while allowing only four hits to beat the defending AL champions for their third win in a row. Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel homered for Seattle off Carlos Carrasco (2-2), who allowed three runs in eight innings (box).
Saturday — Indians 4, Mariners 3: After Cleveland starter Danny Salazar got off to a rocky start — a double to Cano and homers on successive pitches to Cruz and Seager — he collaborated with two relievers to hold the Mariners hitless over the final eight innings in a loss that snapped Seattle’s three-game winning streak (box).
Sunday — Indians 12 Mariners 4: The Indians rocked Seattle starter Chase De Jong for six runs in the third en route to an eight-run frame and went on to clobber the Mariners to win the three-game set, 2-1 (box).
Following a 3-3 week, the Mariners ended April with a 11-15 record, a significant dip from 2016 when they went 13-10. The Mariners have 10 winning Aprils out of 41; only four since they last reached the postseason in 2001. Seattle has made four postseason appearances, but never without a winning April.
Newcomer Taylor Motter might be the next Mark McLemore, at least in terms of his ability to play multiple positions. In Seattle’s first 26 games, Motter played 13 at shortstop, three at first base, two at third and one in left field. He also had two at-bats as a pinch hitter.
If James Paxton hadn’t thrown seven scoreless innings Wednesday in the 8-0 win over Detroit to lower his ERA to 1.39 (fifth-lowest in the majors), the Mariners would probably rank last in the American League in team ERA. As it is, they finished the week ranked 14th at 4.71. In six games since Monday, Seattle’s bullpen allowed 21 runs.
Mike Zunino had another bad week at the plate, going 1-for-15 (.066). He’s also having a bad year with a .172 batting average. Two years ago, when Zunino hit .174 in 112 games (386 at bats), that marked the lowest average by a catcher not named Bill Bergen, who batted .139 for the 1909 Brooklyn Dodgers.
In the second inning Tuesday at Detroit, Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger were both forced from the game with injuries. Both will miss three to four weeks, likely meaning a June return. Hernandez hit the DL with a 2-2, 4.73 mark while Haniger departed with a .338 average, four home runs, 16 RBIs and a team-leading 2.0 WAR (Felix’s sub, Chase De Jong, was rocked for six runs Sunday in the third).
Innings of the week
Tigers 5th, Tuesday: The Tigers tallied nine runs, their biggest inning in Comerica Park history. Andrew Romine, Ian Kinsler and Tyler Collins each had two hits apiece. It was the most runs for Detroit in an inning since a nine-run fifth at Texas Sept. 17, 2008.
Mariners 9th Thursday: At 1-1, Gamel’s RBI single drove in Seager for the go-ahead run. Edwin Diaz then notched his third save, made possible by Motter’s spectacular catch on the first base line when he negotiated the tarp and fought off fan interference to catch a ball that appeared headed into the stands.
Mariners/Indians 1st Saturday: After Cano’s double and homers on successive pitches by Cruz and Seager that staked Seattle to a 3-0 lead, Yovani Gallardo gave the lead back almost immediately. He walked the bases loaded and then coughed up two-run singles to both Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall. Cleveland’s 4-3 lead held up.
Indians 3rd Sunday: After allowing nine runs in the fifth Tuesday in Detroit, the Mariners allowed eight in Cleveland. Starter De Jong (six tearned runs) and reliever Casey Fien flopped, combining to allow three singles, a double, a triple, a sacrifice fly and two walks.
Good week/bad week
Good: Cruz had four home run and drove in nine runs to lift his average from .287 to .315. During the just-completed road trip, Cruz hit .467 . . . Heredia produced three multi-hit games, including a 3-for-4 effort Sunday, to lift his average to .327. Bad: After Hernandez left Tuesday’s game after two innings, relievers Chris Heston and Evan Marshall combined to allow 12 runs in four innings. Both were demoted to Tacoma.
- When Hernandez departed in the second inning Tuesday with what turned out to be right shoulder bursitis, it marked his shortest outing since June 12, 2015, when he lasted a third of an inning after giving eight earned runs to the Astros.
- When the Mariners allowed nine runs in the fifth Tuesday in Detroit, they fell two shy of the franchise mark for most runs ceded in a single frame. Seattle has allowed 11 runs in an inning four times, most recently against the White Sox in the fourth April 18, 2000.
- Gamel singled off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth Thursday, driving in the go-ahead run in the 2-1 win. Gamel became the first MLB rookie with a go-ahead RBI against Rodriguez since Max Kepler of the Twins July 20, 2016.
- Before making a game-saving catch along the first base line in Thursday, Motter played 12 games at shortstop in place of the injured Jean Segura and then was at third in place of Kyle Seager (hip) for the first two games in Detroit. Prior to his start at first base Thursday, Motter had played only 10 innings in his career at that position.
- Seattle’s series win over Detroit was its first at Comerica Park since 2014.
- Forty percent of Seattle’s rotation is on the disabled list.
Not in the box score
- In Detroit’s 19-9 win over Seattle, 55 batters reach based via hit, walk or hit by pitch — 31 by the Tigers, 24 by the Mariners. According to Elias, the last game to feature that many runners occurred July 24, 2008 when a Marlins-Rockies contest produced 56.
- A day after the Mariners allowed 19 runs to the Tigers, Paxton and relievers Vincent and Diaz did not give up a run in the Mariners’ 8-0 shutout. That marked only the third time in 40 years that a team allowed at least 19 runs in one game and did not allow any in its next against the same opponent. On Aug. 1, 2002, the Red Sox lost to the Rangers 19-7 and won 13-0 the next day. And on Sept. 9, 2004, the Tigers allowed 26 runs to the Royals in the first game of a doubleheader and came back with an 8-0 win in the nightcap.
- The Mariners tallied three runs in the top first Saturday on homers by Cruz and Seager, but the Indians roared back with four in the bottom of the inning. That was the end of the scoring. According to Elias, the last MLB game in which each team scored at least three runs in the first and didn’t score again occurred Sept. 12, 1993, when the Tigers beat the White Sox 6-3 in Chicago.
“That’s a tough game. First we lose Mitch, who has been our best hitter all season, and then we lose Felix, who is our number one pitcher. Those are the two guys we really don’t want to lose.” – Cano, after the Mariners lost Hernandez (right shoulder bursitis) and OF Haniger (strained oblique)
“We really ran into a buzz saw with Paxton. He’s always thrown hard, but he’s found a way to rein that in and get more command. He’s hitting 97 (mph) without much effort, and he’s moving the ball in and out. When a pitcher’s doing that, you’ve got to cheat to catch up to him, and that makes his breaking ball even better.” – Detroit manager Brad Ausmus after Paxton allowed four hits and fanned seven
“The only thing in my head was I knew the tarp was coming up soon. So either I better catch it or the tarp is going to take me out.” – Motter, after making a game-saving catch
“We didn’t muster much against Salazar. Their bullpen’s very good. It’s experienced, they can make pitches, they don’t give in. You hope you don’t see those guys.” – Manager Scott Servais, after Cleveland starter Danny Salazar held the Mariners hitless over the final eight innings
“We’re very inconsistent. A lot of ups and downs. It looks like we’re going to roll, then . . . — Cruz, after the Mariners finished April with an 11-15 record
April 24: Optioned INF Mike Freeman to AAA Tacoma. April 25: Activated SS Jean Segura from the 10-day disabled list. April 26: Recalled RHP Chase De Jong, RHP Casey Fien, OF Ben Gamel and LHP Dillon Overton from Tacoma,placed OF Mitch Haniger and RHP Felix Hernandez on the 10-day DL, optioned RHP Chris Heston and RHP Evan Marshall to Tacoma.April 27: Outrighted OF Leonys Martin to Tacoma four days after designating him for assignment. April 29: Recalled OF Boog Powell from Tacoma and placed RHP Evan Scribner on the 10-day DL with a flexor bundle strain.
After a day off Monday, the Mariners begin a six-game home stand against the Angels and Rangers. Paxton (3-0, 1.39) will throw Tuesday opposite RHP Matt Shoemaker (1-1, 4.73). The Mariners are 0-3 vs. the Angels.