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May 18, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Mariners 6, Twins 2 — a solid start from Felix Hernandez and timely hitting stops a four-game losing streak

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Box score and update stats … 05.18.14 Box Score

It seems so simple. A solid outing from the starting pitcher  + hitting with runner in scoring position = Mariners win.

But for the last 10 games or more, the Mariners always seem to have one part of the equation missing. Lately it’s been the hitting with runners in scoring position. On Sunday, they got some hits with runners in scoring position, Felix Hernandez gave them an outstanding start and they snapped a four-game losing streak.

Hernandez worked eight innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts to improve to 5-1 on the season and lower his ERA to 2.94 on the season.

“It was a good day,” he said.

In the Mariners’ last extended losing streak of eight games, Hernandez had a chance to stop it at six games, but failed against the Astros at Safeco Field. He made sure that didn’t happen again. Was that on his mind?

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“Oh definitely,” he said. “But I try and go out there and win every game. Today was that kind of a day.”

The two Twins’ runs came in the third inning when Trevor Plouffe dumped a two-out flare into center field, lunging at a curveball off the plate.

“It was off the plate,” Hernandez said. “He put a good swing on it and just flicked at it. I was a little pissed. I want to put zeroes up on the scoreboard. After that, I made better pitches.”

The offense was a group effort. Kyle Seager got that first hit with a runner in scoring position, punching a soft single into center off of Twins’ starter Ricky Nolasco to score Cano, who led off with a single, to make it 2-1.

In this game, you can turn everything with one swing in one game,” Cano said of the team’s struggles. “We are going to go through ups and downs.”

This was a game of ups for the Mariners.

Seattle took the lead in the fifth on Saunders’ RBI triple and Cano’s deep RBI double off the wall in center.

Saunders went 6-for-11 in the series with a double, triple, homer and four RBI with three runs scored.

“I’m seeing the ball well and I feel like I’m getting some pitches to hit,” he said. “And when I do get those pitches, I feel like I’m putting a good swing on them.”

Cano didn’t get a homer on the double, but he had four hits in the game – his 25th four-hit game of his career.  Cano hit a pair of balls in the series that bounced off the wall in center. Sunday’s shot was knocked down by the swirling winds.

“As I long as I do my job with runners in scoring position, I’m happy,” Cano said. “If it doesn’t leave the park, I’m not going to get frustrated because of that. Because one day they are going to go out.”

Seattle continued to add on. Saunders added a sacrifice fly in the sixth off of Caleb Thielbar. Justin Smoak doubled home Stefen Romero in the seventh off of Thielbar to push it to 5-2. It was Smoak’s team-high 11th double of the season and 27th RBI.  Smoak had 19 doubles all of last season.

The Mariners tacked on one more run in the ninth. Cano came up with his fourth hit of the game and later scored on a wild pitch. The four-hit day pushed his batting average to .318 on the season.

“He is a great hitter,” McClendon said. “He’s going to hit. He’s going to hit his home runs. Just be patient. He’s amazing.”

Up four runs, McClendon was able to let closer Fernando Rodney, pitch the ninth in a non-save situation and get some work. Rodney hadn’t thrown in four games.

“It was an ideal situation for us today,” McClendon said. “Our starter went eight and we got our closer some much needed work.”

Update on Hart

Corey Hart will fly back to Seattle today and have his strained left hamstring examined by team doctors. Hart has never had a muscle strain in his legs so he doesn’t know how bad this is. But he knew it was bad enough that he had to come out.

Hart said he felt the hamstring bite a few steps from the bag as he started to slide. He wasn’t told to steal, but had the green light to go since Ricky Nolasco wasn’t even acknowledging him at first base.

With Hart going to Seattle, Nick Franklin will head likely be on a plan on Monday, flying to meet the team in Texas. Franklin was likely going to be joining the Mariners soon. But this cements it. McClendon said pregame that Franklin will have to be able to play multiple positions – DH may be one of them.

Not on the McClendon video (we are only supposed to tape 2 minutes) is his comments about Brad Miller’s base running gaffe .

“It should not happen,” McClendon said. “I will not make excuses for players. It was not good. It should not happen. There were some positives to to along with it. And there were some negatives.”




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