SEATTLE — Nelson Cruz had a quick answer Monday when asked how he viewed his selection as the American League’s Player of the Week.
“It means,” he said, “I’m helping my team win games.”
That’s what it should mean, perhaps, but it’s not working out that way.
Cruz has six homers and 12 RBIs in his last seven games — including two RBIs on Monday in the first game following the award period — and the Mariners are just 2-5 in that span.
The Mariners aren’t just squandering Cruz’s torrid stretch. The other members of their All-Star trio are also on a roll.
Robinson Cano is batting .448 (13-for-29) in his last seven games through Monday, and Kyle Seager has hits in 10 of his last 11 games (15-for-42).
Combined, the three players are 38-for-84 (.452) in the last seven games through Monday with 18 runs, eight doubles, eight homers and 21 RBIs.
And, again, the Mariners are 2-5.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen is targeted to begin throwing Friday in his recovery from a hyperextended right elbow. He suffered the injury in a pre-game stretching workout on April 11 in Oakland.
“Hopefully, sometime during our road trip,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “he’ll throw a bullpen, and we’ll go from there.”
The Mariners open a three-city, 10-game trip on April 27 at Texas.
McClendon said Wilhelmsen is also likely to require a short minor-league rehab assignment to pitch “an inning or two just to get sharp again.”
With three members of their rotation struggling through the early weeks, the Mariners might normally be tempted to reach down to Triple-A Tacoma for a boost.
Except the two likeliest replacement candidates, Roenis Elias and Jordan Pries, have done little to merit a promotion.
Elias improved to 2-0 on Monday when Tacoma avoided a four-game sweep by El Paso (Padres) by holding on for a 5-4 victory at Cheney Stadium.
But Elias gave up four runs and seven hits while lasting just five innings — although in doing so, he lowered his ERA to 8.04 ERA through three starts (14 earned runs and 21 hits in 15 2/3 innings).
Pries pitched well in spring training but is 0-1 with a 9.20 ERA (15 earned runs and 23 hits in 14 2/3 innings) through three starts.
McClendon expresses concern at the mounting load for a bullpen that, entering Tuesday, worked three or more innings in eight of last 10 games.
“We’ve got a good bullpen,” he said. “But if your starters don’t give you quality innings, your bullpen is not going to look good.”
The Mariners, a year ago, distributed their bullpen workload among eight relievers for much of the season. McClendon said that option isn't really available this season.
“With the construction of this roster," he said, “that’s a very difficult thing to do. This is a very different team. As we speak right now, I don’t see that happening.”
It was 22 years ago Wednesday — April 22, 1993 — that Chris Bosio pitched the second of the franchise’s three no-hitters in beating the Boston Red Sox 7-0 at the Kingdome.
Bosio walked the first two hitters before getting a double-play grounder that started a run of retiring 26 straight batters. He struck out four and closed the game by recording three successive infield ground outs.
Bret Boone went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer.
Reliever Danny Farquhar got the loss in Monday’s game. It was his first loss in 55 appearances dating to May 11, 2014 against Kansas City…Carson Smith has 15 scoreless innings to start his career. The club record is 17 2/3 innings by Mark Lowe in 2006…The Astros, entering Tuesday, are 15-8 in franchise history at Safeco Field, including 11 victories in their last 15 appearances.
The Mariners and Astros conclude their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Lefty J.A. Happ (0-1, 2.70) will start against Houston right-hander Roberto Hernandez (0-1, 3.38).
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.
After an open date Thursday, the Mariners complete their nine-game homestand with three weekend games against Minnesota.