Shortly after losing another starting pitcher Wednesday, the Mariners pounded their way to an 11-6 victory over Philadelphia that completed a two-game sweep and pulled them back, finally, to .500 at 17-17.
They pounded out 16 hits for a second straight game, including four from Robinson Cano, who wasn’t expected to play after leaving Tuesday’s game because of a strained right quadriceps muscle.
Veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz, a long-time Phillies favorite, contributed a three-run double to a decisive five-run seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie. Danny Valencia had four hits, including a tie-breaking RBI double and a homer.
The lineup is smoking right now. Tuesday marked the sixth time in seven games that the Mariners reached double figures in hits. That likely will need to continue this weekend in Toronto to keep the roll going.
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Because the Mariners’ rotation, right now, is a shambles.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma headed back to Seattle for further examination on a previously undisclosed shoulder ailment that he now says has been troubling him for a few starts.
He joins right-hander Felix Hernandez and lefties James Paxton and Drew Smyly on the disabled list and leaves the Mariners with a rotation of Chase De Jong, Christian Bergman, to be determined and Ariel Miranda to face the Blue Jays.
The goal, for now, is to hold the fort. The Mariners remain hopeful that Hernandez and Paxton can rejoin the rotation on a seven-game homestand that begins Monday. Their hope, also, is Iwakuma will also return within a week.
That’s the best-case scenario. For now, the Mariners need to keep hitting.
Three takeaways from Wednesday’s victory:
***Cano in top form: The joke going around the Mariners’ clubhouse Wednesday, which Cano didn’t deny, is there was no way he wasn’t going to play in the series finale against the Phillies.
Cano’s swing is humming along at the moment, and Citizens Bank Park is a hitter’s paradise. (The Phillies’ pitching might have something to do with that.)
Whatever the reason, Cano went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer. He is now batting .349 over his last 21 games with seven homers and 21 RBIs.
As manager Scott Servais said: "When he’s right, he’s as good as it gets."
***Valencia heating up: Maybe a short tour on the bench was the jolt — or mental reset — that first baseman Danny Valencia needed to get going.
It’s been eight games now since Valencia regained a full-time job May 2 after the Mariners optioned Dan Vogelbach back to Triple-A Tacoma. Valencia is batting .371 (14-for-35) in that span with three homers and 10 RBIs.
His overall slash numbers are now climbing toward respectability at .243/.305/.421.
***Back to .500: Don’t overlook the importance of the Mariners clawing back to .500 for the first time since the season opened. It’s been a hard climb for a club that won just two of its first 10 games.
That the Mariners were able to do it while confronting a slew of injuries to key players is particularly notable.
And while all clubs tend to tout a belief in their resilience and competitive fight, the Mariners have three encouraging victories over different opponents in the last eight days.
1. They scored four runs in the eighth inning on May 3 in an 8-7 victory over Angels.
2. They erased a three-run deficit May 7 in their final two at-bats in a 4-3 victory over the Rangers.
3. And they overcame two four-run deficits Tuesday in a 10-9 victory over Phillies. It marked just the second time in their 41 seasons that the Mariners erased two deficits of four or more runs in the same game.
It would have been easy for the Mariners to collapse under the weight of their injuries. That didn’t happen — or at least it hasn’t happened yet. But their rotation needs to stabilize. And soon.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners