It’s a final: The Mariners banged out four homers (Carlos Peguero, Michael Saunders, Jason Bay and Michael Morse) and beat the Rangers 8-6 for their seventh straight win. It’s their longest spring winning streak since 1998.
TOP OF EIGHTH: Sorry, I got sidetracked doing interviews. The Rangers just scored two in the eighth off Jhonny Nunez to cut the lead to 8-6.
BOTTOM OF FOURTH: The Mariners’ power surge continues as Jason Bay and Michael Morse hit two-run shots. For Morse, it was his first of the spring, a liner that got out to left field in about two seconds. That’s four dingers today, and 18 this spring in Game 8. In case you’re wondering, that’s a 365-homer pace over 162 games. 8-3 Mariners.
TOP OF FOURTH: A nice sliding catch by Peguero (after he got a poor jump) bailed Maurer out of a bases-loaded situation. Two scoreless for Maurer, but he gave up two hits and two walks, with two strikeouts. 4-3 Mariners
BOTTOM OF THIRD: The Mariners have this home run thing down. Michael Saunders blasted one to left with Michael Morse aboard to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead. It’s Saunders’ second of the spring, and came on a changeup by Cory Burns that did not fool him even a little.
TOP OF THIRD: Scoreless inning for Brandon Maurer. He walked leaoff man Elvis Andrus, who was thrown out trying to steal by Kelly Shoppach. Brendan Ryan robbed David Murphy of a hit up the middle, and Maurer struck out Mitch Moreland on a slider.
BOTTOM OF SECOND: Carlos Peguero is certainly making his presence felt. He launched his third homer of the spring, hitting it out on a 1-2 changeup he was out front on. It was a towering drive to right that kept drifting, drifting, drifting until it cleared the fence. He’s 5-for-10 with three homers, a double and two walks. It’s a little early to say he’s worked his way into the outfield mix, but if he keeps this up, the Mariners may have to re-assess.
TOP SECOND: Another less than stellar inning for Paxton, who issues a one-out walk to Leonys Martin, and then gives up a two-out double to Julio Borbon. Paxton’s line: 2 ip, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, no strikeouts.
BOTTOM FIRST: The Mariners get a run back on a one-out walk by Jason Bay and singles by Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse. The run was actually unearned because Bay had stopped at third before Morse’s hit was booted by left fielder David Murphy. With one out and runners on the corners, Michael Saunders struck out and Kelly Shoppach hit into a force. 2-1 Rangers.
TOP FIRST INNING: A rough first inning for James Paxton (pictured above), who walked the leadoff hitter, Ian Kinsler, and then, after getting two fly outs, grooved a 1-1 pitch to Mitch Moreland, who deposited it over the right field fence. It was a laser shot, and right f ielder Michael Morse knew he didn’t have a chance. Rangers2-, Mariner 0.
The most prominent story this spring with the Mariners has been their offense — they lead the majors so far in homers (14), slugging (.554) and extra-base hits (34) — but their pitching has been pretty stout as well. Their 3.86 team ERA ranks second among American League teams and third in the 15-team Cactus League, where the ball traditionally flies.
James Paxton takes to the mound today for the first of Seattle’s three spring meetings with the Rangers, opposing veteran Randy Wells. Paxton has pitched one scoreless inning so far this spring, giving up one hit and striking out one back on Feb. 24 against the Padres. He is scheduled to be followed by Brandon Maurer, Anthony Fernandez, Andrew Carraway, Brian Moran, Bobby LaFromboise, Danny Farquhar, Logan Bawcom and Carson Smith.
The Mariners have won six in a row, which is their longest streak since 2004. The last time they won seven in a row was in 1998. Yes, they had losing records in both of those seasons, going 76-85 in ’98 and 63-99 in ’04.
Here are the lineups today as Elvis Andrus returns from a one-game absence due to the ill-effects of a nine-hour tattoo, which left him with a sore left arm:
Ian Kinsler 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
David Murphy LF
Mitch Moreland 1B
Aaron Cunningham RF
Geovany Soto C
Leonys Martin DH
Mike Olt 3B
Julio Borbon CF
Randy Wells RHP
Dustin Ackley 2B
Jason Bay DH
Kendrys Morales 1B
Michael Morse RF
Michael Saunders CF
Kelly Shoppach C
Carlos Peguero LF
Robert Andino 3B
Brendan Ryan SS
James Paxton LHP