THE FACTS: Robinson Cano’s two-run double highlighted a three-run fifth inning Thursday night that carried the Mariners to a 5-2 victory over Cleveland at Peoria Stadium.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker turned in four more scoreless innings in his bid to win a spot in the rotation. He walked two and gave up two hits while striking out five. He has 12 scoreless innings in his four spring starts.
“I feel like there’s still some work left to do, definitely,” Walker said. “I’ve got to get my innings up to five or six. But everything feels good.”
Walker worked himself into a one-out jam in the second by yielding a single, hitting a batter and issuing a walk. But he struck out Jose Ramirez and retired Erik Gonzalez on a high pop to left,
PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: Left fielder Dustin Ackley made a sliding catch after a long run to his right on David Murphy’s slicing drive in the first inning.
Ackley also made a diving catch for the final out in the second inning with the bases loaded. Gonzalez hit a high pop to short left that Ackley and shortstop Brad Miller converged on.
Both players held up and looked at one another before Ackley made the catch.
“Oh, the second one was a lot more difficult,” Ackley said. “It was one of those tweener balls. Both or you kind of look at each other like `Who’s got this one? It ended up working out.”
PLUS: Ackley, in addition to his two catches, drove in the game’s first run with a line-drive single in the second inning…Kyle Seager had seeing-eye singles on grounders in all three of his at-bats…Robinson Cano broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run double…Alex Jackson, the organization’s top prospect, had a single in his first career Cactus League at-bat. Jackson then scored the Mariners’ final run on Jabari Blash’s RBI double.
MINUS: Miller made a sloppy throwing error on the game’s first play after fielding a routine grounder from Michael Bourn…Miller also struck out in his first at-bats with no outs and runners at first and third…The Mariners wasted a bases-loaded threat with no outs in the fourth when Ackley grounded into a first-home-first double play and, after Miller walked Jesus Sucre flied to left.
JOB BATTLES: Walker continues to set a high bar for Roenis Elias to match. Elias is starting Friday against the Rangers….Lefty reliever David Rollins gave up his first run after five scoreless appearances when Michael Brantley poked a two-out RBI single through the left side…Lucas Luetge, another lefty bullpen candidate, had a one-two-thee sixth inning.
QUOTABLE: “Doubles,” manager Lloyd McClendon on why Seth Smith is a good fit at No. 2 in the lineup. “He has a propensity to hit a lot of doubles. He grinds at-bats out. He has a high on-base percentage, and he hits right-handers real well. There’s a lot to like.”
EXTRA INNINGS: The Mariners moved back over .500 at 8-7-1 and are halfway through their 32-game spring schedule.
UP NEXT: The Mariners make their first trip down Bell Road to Surprise for a 1:05 p.m. game Friday against Texas. Elias will start against Rangers lefty Derek Holland.
Yoervis Medina and Joe Saunders are also expected to pitch for the Mariners.
The two teams play again Sunday in Peoria.