SEATTLE — The Boomstick is, well, booming.
Mariners outfielder Nelson Cruz was picked Monday as the American League’s Player of the Week for the period that ended Sunday after hitting six homers and driving in 10 runs in six games.
Cruz had two homers and five RBIs in Sunday’s 11-10 comeback victory over Texas at Safeco Field, including a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning.
“That at-bat (Sunday) to win the ballgame,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “you saw a very calm guy at the plate. He really slowed things down and did quite a good job of winning that ballgame.”
This marks the fourth time in Cruz’s career that he was picked as the AL’s player of the week. He initially won the award in 2010 while playing for Texas and won it twice last season while playing for Baltimore.
“When you feeling good,” Cruz said, “you see the pitches well, and you can drive the ball to any part of the feel. Especially when I’m driving the ball the other way, that’s when I’m feeling (my best).”
Cruz will receive a watch from Game Time in recognition of the award. St. Louis third baseman Matt Carpenter was picked as the National League Player of the Week after going 12-for-25 with seven doubles.
The Mariners had players win the award three times in 2014. Third baseman Kyle Seager was picked for the weeks ending April 27 and June 29, while pitcher Felix Hernandez won for the week ending June 8.
Cruz was 12-for-24 overall in the six games while compiling a 1.806 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). He also hit homers in the two games preceding the one-week award period and leads the majors with eight.
Five teams have fewer homers than Cruz: Cleveland and Miami (seven), Philadelphia and St, Louis (six) and Milwaukee (three).
Cruz is the first player to hit eight homers in a club’s first 12 games since 2007, when ex-Mariner Alex Rodriguez had eight in the New York Yankees’ first 12 games.
“He’s probably going to player of the month,” McClendon said. “I think (anyone) would be hard-pressed to beat that. He’s been outstanding.”
A day after watching James Paxton cough up an early multi-run lead for a second straight start, McClendon was in no mood to hear about the need for mechanical tweaks or adjustments.
“No, I don’t see that,” McClendon said in his pre-game news briefing, “and I’m not going to talk about Paxton. I don’t want to hear anything about mechanics. That’s over with.”
Paxton suggested his became “too rotational” in his delivery after giving up seven runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings Sunday against Texas.
McClendon responded with a simple message to Paxton in an early-afternoon meeting: Stop worrying about mechanics and pitch.
The Mariners staked Paxton to a 2-0 lead Sunday in the first inning against Texas, but he gave it all back and more in failing to survive a seven-run third inning. The Mariners rallied for an 11-10 victory.
Paxton had an early 4-0 lead in his previous start against the Dodgers, but the margin was down to one run when he exited in the seventh, and the Mariners eventually lost 6-5 in 10 innings.
While reliever Carson Smith permitted two inherited runners to score in Sunday’s victory over Texas, he continues to carry a 0.00 earned-run average for his career through 15 appearances.
That’s a club record.
The previous best of 13 was shared by Mark Lowe (2006) and Tim Davis (1994). Lowe still owns the club record for consecutive scoreless innings at the start of a career with 17 2/3.
Smith entered Monday’s game at 14 innings.
Lowe is currently pitching Tacoma where, through Sunday, he had allowed one run and five hits in six innings over four appearances. He has eight strikeouts and no walks.
Seth Smith batted sixth for the second time in three games Monday after batting second in his first five starts.
“I’m just playing with it and trying to see what works better,” McClendon said. “I kind of like him down there (in the order). I like that experience down there.”
The shift meant left fielder Dustin Ackley batted second for the second time in three games. McClendon has often expressed his view that Ackley fits better toward the bottom of the lineup.
“I’m not sure if that’s what we’re going to do long-term,” McClendon said. “For right now, I like it.”
Nobody is off to a hotter start within the Mariners’ minor-league system than Hi-A Bakersfield catcher Tyler Marlette, who is 13-for-28 through his first eight games.
Marlette also has two homers and seven RBIs in compiling a .714 slugging percentage prior to Monday’s games. He entered the season ranked No. 9 on the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.
***Infielder Ketel Marte, No. 3 on the TNT Top 10, is batting .304 (14-for-46) though 11 games at Triple-A Tacoma.
***The top two prospects on the TNT Top 10 are off to slow starts. Outfielder Alex Jackson, No. 1, is 4-for-35 (.114) through nine games at Lo-A Clinton; while infielder D.J. Peterson, No. 2, is 5-for-33 (.152) in nine games at Double-A Jackson.
It was three years ago Tuesday — April 22, 2012 — that the Mariners failed to get a baserunner in 4-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field.
Journeyman Philip Humber needed just 96 pitches to throw the 21st perfect game in major-league history. He ended the game with his ninth strikeout by retiring Brendan Ryan on a check-swing.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen isn’t expected to begin throwing for a few more days. He suffered a hyperextended elbow on April 11 and was placed on the disabled list…The Mariners, prior to Monday, didn’t have a grand slam in their last 115 plate appearances with the bases loaded. Their last slam was by Brad Miller on Sept. 28, 2013 vs. Oakland at Safeco Field…Robinson Cano entered Monday’s game with 11 hits in his last 25 at-bats, which raised his average from .120 to .280.
The Mariners and Astros continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (0-2, 17.18) will face Houston right-hander Collin McHugh (2-0, 1.54)
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.