Hey, the Mariners are showing signs of a pulse again, thanks to another dominant performance Saturday night by James Paxton in a 5-0 victory over Texas at Safeco Field.
There were also, finally, a couple of timely hits by Kyle Seager and Taylor Motter in a five-run sixth inning after the Mariners wasted some earlier opportunities.
The Mariners (4-8) have won consecutive games for the first time this season and have clinched their first series victory. They go for a three-game weekend sweep Sunday against the Rangers,
Three takeaways from Saturday’s loss:
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***Paxton on a roll: It’s way to early to say the torch has passed to James Paxton from Felix Hernandez as the Mariners’ staff ace — but it’s too early to view it as a possibility.
Paxton has not allowed a run this season in 21 innings over three starts and seems to be getting better every time out. He was in complete command Saturday against the Rangers after twice shutting down Houston.
That 21-inning run is the longest scoreless stretch to start a season in franchise history. Longer than Felix Hernandez. Longer than Randy Johnson. Longer than anyone.
***It must be the hair: Utilityman Taylor Motter keeps saying the right things as he fills in at shortstop for injured shortstop Jean Segura, i.e., that the Mariners are a better team with a healthy Segura, etc.
And that’s true.
But Motter is 7-for-15 (.467) with four doubles and two homers in four starts since Segura went to the disabled list. The Mariners aren’t going to put that type of production on the bench when Segura returns by next weekend.
Unless Motter’s bat goes in refrigeration over the next several days, look for his to get time at first base and the outfield for those currently living below the Mendoza Line (Danny Valencia, Leonys Martin and Jarrod Dyson).
***Waiting for Cano: A few days ago, it appeared perennial All-Star Robinson Cano had shaken free from a first-week slump. He had seven RBIs over a two-game span with a homer and a couple of doubles.
But he’s 2-for-16 in his last four games and had four weak grounders in Saturday’s victory over the Rangers. Stats over the last three years show Cano is the lynchpin in the Mariners’ success.
When he hits, they win. More than Nelson Cruz. More than Kyle Seager. More than anyone. And right now, he’s not hitting.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners