No comebacks or late dramatics Monday from the Mariners. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, and Ariel Miranda took it from there in a 6-1 victory over Miami.
Miranda limited the Marlins to four hits over seven shutout innings (VIDEO LINK) before Nick Vincent and Evan Scribner closed out the Mariners’ fourth straight victory and spoiled Ichiro Suzuki’s return to Safeco Field.
"What’s clicking and what’s working is the pitching," Cano said. "You even see the bullpen (on Sunday). For any team to be successful, it’s all about pitching."
Suzuki went hitless in three at-bats, but he made a nice catch at the left-field wall (VIDEO LINK) on Taylor Motter’s leadoff drive in the eighth inning. He drew cheers all night from the crowd of 16,990.
The homers by Cano and Cruz (VIDEO LINK) staked Miranda to a three-run lead. The Mariners made it 5-0 against Miami starter Tom Koehler in the fourth on RBI doubles from Jarrod Dyson and Cano.
"That’s what drives the train," manager Scott Servais said, "the middle of our lineup. Hopefully, we can get them in a nice, consistent rhythm. That would be great."
While robbed late by Suzuki, Motter earlier continued his surge as a replacement for injured shortstop Jean Segura by hitting a 413-foot boomer (VIDEO LINK) in the fifth inning against reliever Jose Urena that pushed the lead to 6-0.
"I think it’s helping that I’m getting my fastballs," said Motter, who is 9-for-22 with four doubles and three homers in six games since Segura went to the disabled list.
"I hit a slider out the other night. I'm getting pitches up in the zone, pitches that I can handle. And I’m not missing them."
The Marlins avoided a shutout on Christian Yelich’s one-out homer in the ninth inning against Scribner.
Miranda (1-1) provided the Mariners with their third ultra-quality start — at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs — in their four-game surge since opening the season at 2-8.
The exception was Sunday, when the Rangers battered Hisashi Iwakuma before the Mariners, bolstered by the bullpen, rallied for an 8-7 victory by scoring two runs in the ninth inning.
Miranda didn’t allow a runner until Christian Yelich pulled a two-out single through the right side in the fourth inning.
That was it until two outs in the sixth, when Miranda yielded successive two-out singles to Dee Gordon and Martin Prada before retiring Yelich on a fly to right.
"I was just being a lot more aggressive today," Miranda said. "Obviously, a lot of strikes. A lot of early strikes. That helped out a lot."
Koehler (0-1) started poorly by yielding those two homers in the first inning and exited after the fourth. He allowed five runs and seven hits.
Dyson opened the Mariners’ first inning with a four-pitch walk. Mitch Haniger took a third strike, but Cano crushed a 1-2 changeup for a 441-foot drive to right-center field for a two-run homer.
Cruz followed with a 410-foot drive to center on a 1-1 fastball for a 3-0 lead. It marked the first time this season that the Mariners clubbed back-to-back homers.
The Mariners missed a chance to extend their lead in the third inning when Danny Valencia struck out with the bases loaded, but struck for two runs in the fourth after Leonys Martin’s leadoff single.
Martin stole second and went to third on an errant pickoff throw by Koehler before Dyson softly served an RBI double into short left field. Cano’s two-out double off the left-field wall made it 5-0.
Urena replaced Koehler to start the fifth inning and surrendered Motter’s homer — and Motter punctuated the moment with his now-requisite hair flip as he returned to the dugout.
"That’s all he cares about, his hair," Cano joked before turning serious. "He’s been going out there every day and doing his job. Segura is hurt right now, and you want a guy like him to help us win games."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Third baseman Kyle Seager backhanded Miguel Rojas’ leadoff chopper over the base in the sixth inning and, with his momentum carrying him into foul ground, still got enough on the throw for an out.
PLUS: Miranda’s seven innings were the longest scoreless outing of his career…Dyson has reached base safely at least once in 12 straight games…Cruz has hits in seven straight games and is batting .370 (10-for-27) in that span.
MINUS: Mike Zunino was hitless in three at-bats, which dropped his average to .189 and his on-base percentage to .211…Danny Valencia, after getting two hits in Sunday’s victory, went 0-for-3, which dropped his average to .163
STAT PACK: Mitch Haniger’s leadoff single in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games…the Mariners hit a season-high three homers. Their previous best was two on three occasions…the Mariners have now scored more runs this season (59) than they’ve given up (58).
QUOTABLE: "We see those big guys (Cano and Cruz) start hitting," Motter said, "and it makes everything easier on us. We know they’re getting into a groove."
SHORT HOPS: Cano’s two hits give him 245 in interleague play, which ranks seventh among active players…the last time the Mariners hit back-to-back homers was Sept. 30, 2016 in the third inning of a 5-1 victory over Oakland. That also was by Cano and Cruz.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners