Robinson Cano and James Jones return home tonight with their streaks intact as the Mariners open their longest stay of the season — 11 games — at Safeco Field with the first of four weekend games against Houston.
Cano has reached base safely at least once in a career-best 28 straight games after going 2-for-4 in Wednesday's 4-3 loss at Texas. It is the longest streak by a Mariner since rookie Mike Carp had a 30-game run in 2011.
Asked if he's feels he's on a roll, Cano said he's been "feeling good all year." And his .326 average ranks second in the American League. Only Detroit DH Victor Martinez, at .329, is higher.
(If you prefer on-base percentage to average, and you probably should, Cano ranks 15th in the league at .374. That's 19 points above his career average.)
Jones had a triple in three at-bats Wednesday, which extended two streaks. He now has hits in 11 straight games overall. The last Mariners rookie with a longer streak? That, too, was Carp, who had a 20-game run in 2011.
"I’m definitely happy about that," Jones said, "but I’m more focused on getting the win. If the hits equal a win, I’ll definitely be for it."
Jones also has hits in each of his 12 career starts, which is a Mariners record. (Edgar Martinez held the previous record by getting hits in his first 10 career starts in 1987.)
I've gotten some questions regarding how Jones only has an 11-game hitting streak if he has hits in 12 straight starts. That's easily explained: He hasn't started every game in his career.
He had a sacrifice bunt as a pinch-hitter May 8 in his only plate appearance. Jones' hitting streak actually started the next night with a pinch double.
Cano also had a homer in Wednesday's loss. It was his second of the year and broke a 29-game drought (that dated to the Mariners' last visit to homer-friendly Texas.)
Much has been made (justifiably, probably) regarding Cano's lack of homers, but this much seems clear: It's not bothering him. He continues to characterize himself as a line-drive hitter while insisting, sooner or later, some of those line drives will leave the park.
That's what happened Wednesday. Cano hit a low dart to center field that Dan Robertson (even on some replays) appeared to catch.
"I hit it pretty good," Cano said, "but you never know. It was a line drive. Finally, one went over (the wall)."
The Morales question
Should/will the Mariners sign free-agent Kendrys Morales?
That's two questions really.
A lot of people believe the Mariners should sign Morales, particularly in light of Corey Hart's expected absence of four-to-six weeks because of a strained hamstring. That includes people in the organization.
There's certainly a need for an impact bat. (Yes, that need existed before Hart's injury; and the general view is Hart won't return for at least six weeks. Maybe longer.)
And Morales' agent, Scott Boras, signaled a willingness his client might accept a pro-rated contract of the previously-rejected $14.1 million qualifying offer (about $10 million). Shortstop Stephen Drew, a Boras client, just accepted such a deal in returning to Boston.
Perhaps such negotiations are under way. The Mariners' current administration has always shied away from any public disclosure of such talks...but the vibe around the club is that a reunion remains unlikely.
Why? Here's one reason.
The Mariners are hanging around .500. (They carry a 22-23 record into tonight's game against the Astros.) They believe they're going to get better as their rotation solidifies.
Hisashi Iwakuma has already provided a major boost since returning from the disabled list. James Paxton is about to head out on a minor-league rehab assignment, and Taijuan Walker appears to be within a week of doing the same.
The Mariners believe they have the pieces in place to make a postseason run. Cano emphasized that point recently. Even so, if things come together as the Mariners suspect, it's a good bet they'll look to add a player or two to boost their chances.
That addition could be Morales, but if the Mariners have $10 million available — and that's a big if — there could be a lot of other options available over the next two months prior to the non-waiver trading deadline. Options that might fit better into a long-term plan.
Outfielder Brayan Hernandez of Venezuela, who appears headed to the Mariners, is rated by Baseball America's Ben Badler as the No. 7 prospect in the International signing period that begins July 2.
Badler comments (in part): "Hernandez is arguably the top prospect in Venezuela and one of the most well-rounded players in Latin America. He can run, he’s hit in games, he shows solid power and has the instincts to play center field."
Around the farms
***Triple-A Tacoma is about to get some big-league roster additions, which should be welcome. The Rainiers have lost 10 of their last 13; the latest setback came Wednesday in a 3-1 loss to Reno (Diamondbacks). Our TJ Cotterill has the details.
***Double-A Jackson got three hits from Ketel Marte and two from Leon Landry, but it wasn't enough in a 6-2 loss at Jacksonville (Marlins). From the Jackson Sun.
***Hi-A High Desert got four scoreless innings from relievers Blake Hauser and Matt Brazis in a 4-3 victory at Lake Elsinore (Padres). From the Victorville Daily Press.
***Lo-A Clinton got seven shutout innings from right-hander Edwin Diaz, one of the organization's top prospects, in a 5-0 victory at Peoria (Cardinals). From the LumberKings' website.