Robinson Cano set the tone Tuesday with a three-run homer in the first inning and the surging Mariners rolled from there to a 12-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field.
Kyle Seager also had a three-run homer, which capped a seven-run fourth inning that turned the game in a rout. Danny Valencia had a three-run double earlier in the inning.
"It goes in waves," Seager said. "You go through waves when you don’t swing the bats too well, and then you have waves like this. It’s certainly much more fun like this."
The Mariners won for the eighth time in nine games while outscoring opponents by a combined 69-25 in that span. Twins catcher Chris Gimenez pitched the eighth — and worked a one-two-three inning.
It was that kind of night.
"It is as good as we’ve played offensively all year," manager Scott Servais said. "The line is moving. Walks, a big hit and then somebody pops one. You put big crooked numbers up there, which we’re capable of doing."
The Mariners’ muscle flex covered up a rare ragged start by James Paxton, who particularly struggled through the fourth and fifth innings before exiting after throwing 96 pitches and allowing three runs.
"Physically, I feel great," said Paxton, who made his second start since returning from a month-long stay on the disabled list because a strained forearm muscle.
"I just wasn't as sharp tonight. I felt a little off mechanically. I just couldn’t really find my rhythm. But that happens, and it’s a good game to do it when we score 12 runs. It worked out OK."
Paxton (5-0) still got the victory, although his ERA jumped from 1.26 to 1.69. The Mariners finished with 12 hits, and every starter reached base safely at least once.
Minnesota lefty Hector Santiago (4-6) didn’t survive three innings, and his problems were largely due to an inability to throw strikes.
He opened the first inning by walking Guillermo Heredia and Valencia — and then hung a 1-2 breaking ball to Cano, who turned it into a 3-0 lead.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Cano said, "and get one run in."
The Mariners added two more runs in the third inning and knocked out Santiago, who again started the rally with a pair a walks. Seager drove an RBI double to right before Taylor Motter delivered a sacrifice fly.
Minnesota got those two runs back in the fourth.
First, Brian Dozier led off with a line-hugging homer to left. It was the Twins’ first hit against Paxton and marked only the third time in eight start that he’s surrendered a run.
Miguel Sano drove a one-out double into the right-center gap, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an infield grounder.
The Mariners answered with seven — seven! — runs later in the inning against Randy Rosario.
Two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs for Valencia, who just missed a grand slam when a drive to left hooked foul. Valencia then lined a three-run double past center fielder Byron Buxton.
A single by Cano moved Valencia to third and prompted another pitching change — to Alex Wimmers, which didn’t help.
Nelson Cruz punched an RBI single to left, and Seager followed with a three-run homer that pushed the lead to 12-2.
Paxton surrendered another run in a shaky fifth before exiting. A bullpen relay closed out the victory.
"We made their guy work," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Got him up close to 100 pitches in five innings, but we just couldn’t keep it close enough to make it a very good ballgame."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Runners were on second and third in the Mariners’ third inning when Motter hit a sacrifice fly to deep left — deep enough that a still-gimpy Cruz scored easily from third.
Seager tagged and went to third…as the throw by Twins left fielder Robbie Grossman inexplicably went behind the runner to second base.
PLUS: Paxton is 7-0 in his last 10 starts. The last Mariner to win seven straight decisions was Felix Hernandez over 2014-15…the Mariners were 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position, while the Twins were 1-for-9…the Mariners scored 10 or more runs for the eighth time. Only the Nationals and Yankees have done it more with nine…Valencia has 24 RBIs in his last 30 games.
MINUS: Dozier’s homer was the first allowed this season by Paxton and ended a 46-inning streak…reliever Tony Zych labored through a 29-pitch sixth inning but stranded two runners by striking out the the final two hitters…Jarrod Dyson was hit by a pitcher for the ninth time, which leads the American League.
STAT PACK: Cruz reached 100 homers with the Mariners on Saturday in what was his 362nd game with the club. Only four players have ever reached triple figures in fewer games with a single club.
Babe Ruth did it in 250 games with the Yankees; Alex Rodriguez in 295 games with the Rangers; Roger Maris in 297 games with the Yankees; and Cecil Fielder in 335 games with the Tigers.
Cruz is tied for fifth with Carlos Pena, who did it in 362 games with Tampa Bay.
QUOTABLE: Cruz left the game for a pinch-runner (Boog Powell) after an RBI single in the fourth inning. It was mostly a precaution, although Cruz’s troublesome right calf tightened up on him.
"He’s going to have it looked at again (Wednesday)," Servais said. "He knows his body really well and when to take it easy. We certainly need him in the lineup. That’s why we pulled him out tonight.
"I expect him to be available (Wednesday)."
SHORT HOPS: No hop. Wimmers was hit in the top of the right calf by a Heredia line drive in fifth inning. Wimmers stayed in the game…the Twins lost for just the third time in their last 15 road games…Santiago is 0-5 with a 9.93 ERA in his last six starts.
ON DECK: The Mariners and Twins continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (2-6 with a 6.24 ERA) will oppose Minnesota left-hander Adalberto Mejía (1-1, and 3.95).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners