The Mariners (57-56) split a doubleheader in Kansas City Sunday, winning 8-7 in the opener (box) and losing 9-1 in the nightcap (box) to finish a 4-3 week in which they remained competitive for a wild card berth. The good news: Seattle opened the week 2½ games in arrears of a playoff spot, but ended it a scant 1½ behind. The disconcerting news: Felix Hernandez went on the disabled list (biceps tendinitis) for the second time this season, and new reliever David Phelps may be headed that way (elbow).
Monday (Mariners 6, Rangers 4): Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the ninth inning as the Mariners (54-53) rallied from a 4-0 deficit. The Rangers built the 4-0 lead against Hernandez, but the bullpen came though as Phelps got all five outs on strikeouts and Edwin Diaz worked a perfect ninth for his 20th save. Texas had five hits in the first two innings and only one thereafter.
Tuesday (Mariners 8, Rangers 7): Cano doubled twice and drove in three runs. His two-run double in the sixth was the 499th of his career. Jarrod Dyson added his 200th career steal and also threw out Delino DeShields at third to end the eighth in a one-run game.
Wednesday (Rangers 5, Mariners 1): Joey Gallo hit a fifth-inning home run estimated at 460 feet and the Rangers ended Seattle’s four-game winning streak. DeShields and Elvis Andrus also homered off Ariel Miranda. Cano drove in Seattle’s only run in the first inning with an RBI single.
Thursday (Royals 6, Mariners 4): Brandon Moss hit two home runs and Lorenzo Cain drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh as the Royals rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.
Friday (Mariners 5, Royals 2): James Paxton (12-3) tied a franchise record by winning his seventh consecutive start. He did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and finished with seven strikeouts and one walk. Paxton improved to 7-3 in a dozen starts after Seattle losses. The Mariners improved to 13-8 since the All-Star break.
Sunday (Mariners 8, Royals 7): The Mariners blasted four home runs, including two by Nelson Cruz, and held to to beat the Royals in the first game of a doubleheader after a rain-out Saturday. Cruz homered in the second inning and again in the seventh when his solo shot, estimated at 465 feet, gave Seattle itsfinal run. Danny Valencia and Kyle Seager also hit home runs. The Mariners led 7-0 but it took new starter Marco Gonzales and seven relievers to hang on late.
Sunday (Royals 9, Mariners 1): Rookie Jakob Junis, added to Kansas City’s roster as the 26th man for the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, struck out seven, walked none and retired the final 19 batters as the Royals earned a split. The Mariners fell out of it when when Melky Cabrera bashed a three-run homer off Erasmo Ramirez, making his second start with Seattle, in a four-run third inning. Phelps thew seven pitches in the seventh before asking out of the game with a elbow soreness.
Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto scrambled to bolster his rotation by working newly acquired Ramirez (from Tampa) into the mix, with mixed results. But it’s doubtful the Mariners have enough quality behind Paxton over the final seven weeks to remain playoff viable with Hernandez, who flew back to Seattle for treatment, going on the DL and his return date unknown. Dipoto is still on the hunt for non-waiver trades before the Aug. 31 deadline, which he pulled off Sunday morning by acquiring All-Star 1B Yonder Alonso from Oakland to platoon at first base.
Innings of the week
Mariners 3rd Tuesday: Seattle scored three times as Cano, Valencia and Marrtin all drove in runs to make it 5-0.
Royals 7th Thursday: With the score tied 3-3, Alcides Escobar singled and 1B Valencia followed with a critical error when he dropped a throw from 3B Kyle Seager. That sparked a two-run rally and a 5-3 lead.
Mariners 7th Friday: Trailing 2-1, The Mariners received an RBI double from Guillermo Heredia and run-scoring singles from Dyson and Martin to take a 4-2 lead.
Royals 8th Sunday (first game): Seattle led 8-5, but reliable eighth-inning set-up man Nick Vincent ceded a two-run homer to Mike Moustakas. After Vincent walked Jorge Bonifacio, he notched three consecutive outs to escape the inning.
Good week/bad week
Good: Cano delivered the game-winning RBI Monday at Texas, added a pair of doubles Tuesday, had an RBI single Thursday, collected his 500th career double Friday, and had hits in both games Sunday . . . Diaz notched four saves, running his season total to 23. Bad: Ben Gamel had a 1-for-23 (.043) trip through Texas and Kansas City, his average falling to .303. Gamel was hitting .323 at the All-Star break.
Not in the box score
- Cano’s two-run single Monday marked the sixth time since the start of the 2016 season that Cano drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning or later. Only Houston’s Carlos Correa (seven) of the Astros has had more go-ahead RBIs in the ninth or later over the same span.
- When Ramirez made the start Tuesday at Texas, he became the 33rd pitcher used this season, breaking the mark set in 2016. LHP Marco Gonzales, summoned from Tacoma Saturday to replace Hernandez, extended the record Sunday and Cody Martin, working in relief Sunday as a 26th player brought in for the doubleheader, became the 35th.
- When Casey Lawrence won his first MLB game Tuesday at Texas, he became the 18th Mariners pitcher to win a game this season. In 2016, 21 pitchers, a franchise record, won a game, one more than in 2015.
- By losing Wednesday, the Mariners missed a chance to record their first three-game sweep in Arlington since April 27-29, 2015. The Mariners swept the Rangers in Seattle April 14-16.
- Cano is the 63rd player to reach 500 doubles and only the seventh second baseman. He joins Craig Biggio, Nap Lajoie, Charlie Gehringer, Jeff Kent, Rogers Hornsby and Roberto Alomar. Of those six, only Kent is not in the Hall of Fame.
- When Paxton defeated Kansas City Friday, he extended to seven his consecutive starts with a win. That tied the club record set by Scott Bankhead from June 18 to July 20, 1989. and matched by Jamie Moyer from May 6 to June 8, 2003.
- The Mariners have played 72 doubleheaders in their history, and are 12-17-43, including a 8-13-33 on the road. Seattle’s previous doubleheader before Sunday was May 7, 2014 at OAK (a split), and its previous in Kansas City was Aug. 28, 2004, when the Mariners swept. The Mariners and Royals have played six doubleheaders with Seattle sweeping two and splitting four.
“The first thing that came to my mind was just go to home plate and congratulate him. What he did last night was unbelievable.”– Hernandez, who walked from the mound to home plate during the first inning Monday to hug former teammate Adrian Beltre, who reached 3,000 career hits a day earlier
“He made a great throw, and the pick and tag that (Kyle) Seager put on DeShields was just awesome. A big point in the game and you have to make a big play.” – Manager Scott Servais, after Dyson threw out DeShields at third base to end the eighth inning Tuesday
“I’ve never seen nobody hit the ball that far here. Never. It’s crazy.” – Leonys Martin, after Joey Gallo of the Rangers hit a home run Wednesday in Arlington estimated at 460 feet
“An outstanding come-from-behind win. Both starters were throwing the ball very well. I didn’t think there’d be a lot of runs scored, but we were able to put some pressure on them and put a crooked number up there. Paxton continues to really dominate. I thought the first time through the lineup he was right on everything.” — Servais
“We came in here (Kansas City) and competed very well. We got the split. We would like to have won three out of four, but we got two and we’ll take it. Now we’ll get after it in Oakland.” — Servais
Monday: The American League named Paxton and former Mariner Adrian Beltre of Texas as its co-Players of the Week for July 24. Paxton went 2-0, 1.13 with 18 K’s and no walks while Beltre became the 31st to reach 3,000 career hits. Paxton became the first Mariner to win the Player of the Week award twice in a single season.
Tuesday: Lawrence picked up the first win of his MLB career after entering the game in the fourth inning.
Wednesday: Paxton and Diaz were named the AL’s Pitcher of the Month and Reliever of the Month for July. Paxton went 6-0, 1.13, while Diaz notched eight saves.
Saturday: When the Mariners-Royals game was rained out, it marked Seattle’s first postponement since it was rained out in New York April 30, 2014. The club played 572 consecutive scheduled games since then, the longest active streak in the majors. Seattle had not been rained out in Kansas City since 2004.
Friday: Activated INF/OF Shawn O’Malley from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to AAA Tacoma; outrighted RHP Christian Bergman to the Rainiers.
Saturday: Placed Hernandez on the 10-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis, recalled Gonzales from Tacoma.
Sunday: Acquired 1B Yonder Alonso from Oakland in exchange for minor league OF Boog Powell; acquired RHP Ryan Garton and C Mike Marjama from Tampa Bay in exchange for AA LHP Anthony Misiewicz, A INF Luis Rengifo and a PTBNL; recalled RHP Cody Martin from Tacoma to serve as the designated 26th player for the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Martin was also with the team July 28-29, but Sunday was his first appearance this season. INF D.J. Peterson was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox.
Off Monday, the Mariners play at Oakland Tuesday and Wednesday, then begin their only homestand of the month Wednesday with four against the Angels. Baltimore will follow for three. Then comes the year’s longest trip — 12 games in 13 days, through Tampa, Atlanta, New York and Cleveland. LHP Ariel Miranda (7-5, 4.41) will pitch the series opener against Oakland opposite RHP Kevin Graveman (2-3, 4.96).