SEATTLE — No, this doesn’t make up for three disappointing months. Not one swing. Or even two. But Robinson Cano keeps saying he’s swinging well. So maybe…just maybe…this is a harbinger of better times ahead.
Cano yanked a line drive into the right-field corner (VIDEO LINK) Tuesday night for an RBI single that lifted the Seattle Mariners to a 7-6 walk-off victory over the Detroit Tigers in 11 roller-coaster innings at Safeco Field.
“I’ve been feeling good with my swing the whole year,” Cano insisted. “I’ve hit a lot of balls hard, but when you start getting hits — it’s different. You don’t have to think what you’re doing wrong.
“To be able to come through in that situation… We’ve been having trouble the whole year, especially myself, in doing our job with men in scoring position.”
Brad Miller started the winning rally by serving a leadoff single into left in the 11th inning against Ian Kroll.
Austin Jackson fouled off two attempted sacrifice bunts before his grounder to third turned into a force at second. Franklin Gutierrez grounded a single through the left side that moved Jackson to second.
Cano then yanked a 2-1 slider from Kroll (1-2) into the right-field corner. Although J.D. Martinez had no play on the ball, Cano chose to stop at first as Jackson crossed the plate.
“When he hit it,” Jackson said, “you knew that was it right there.”
Cano also had a homer — one of seven hit in the game — that gave the Mariners a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning. That lasted until Fernando Rodney coughed up a two-out homer in the eighth to Yoenis Cespedes.
The stretched 3 hours and 44 minutes.
“It felt like the beginning of the game was hours ago,” Miller said. “There were some balls hit today, both sides. Some big boys swinging the bats. We found a way.”
Say this: The Mariners are a different lineup when Cano is hitting, and he’s 12-for-30 over his last seven games. Since June 9, he’s batting .284. Overall, he’s up to .253, which remains 57 points under his career average.
“He’s been squaring up some balls,” Jackson said. “He just hasn’t been getting the luck. We know in here that you want him at the plate in those clutch situations.”
What a wild ride over the closing innings.
***Detroit missed a chance earlier in the 11th after Victor Martinez started the inning against Charlie Furbush (1-1) with a double into the left-center gap.
After Andrew Romine replaced Martinez as a pinch-runner, Furbush issued an intentional walk to J.D. Martinez.
Alex Avila fouled off two bunts before taking a third strike. Romine stole third on Nick Castellanos’ swinging third strike. Furbush stranded both runners by striking out pinch-hitter Rajai Davis.
***The Mariners put runners at first and second with one out on two walks in the 10th inning, but Logan Morrison popped out, and Mike Zunino grounded into a force at second.
***The Tigers left runners at first and third in their 10th after Anthony Gose hustled his way to a one-out double on a grounder up the middle after Carson Smith had struck out all four previous batters faced.
Smith struck out Jose Iglesias and should have been out of the inning when Ian Kinsler hit a grounder to short — but Miller, just into the game, booted the ball for an error. Gose stopped at third.
“Gose probably could’ve (scored) if he kept going,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “But the play’s behind him. It was kind of an odd play.”
Smith then escaped by retiring Cespedes on a pop.
***The Mariners had a chance to win it in the ninth after Seth Smith led off with a pinch single against reliever Bruce Rondon.
A sacrifice by Jackson, who earlier hit a grand slam, moved Miller, who pinch-ran for Smith, to second. But Rondon struck out Franklin Gutierrez before Cano sent a soft fly to left.
***Rodney inherited a one-run lead to start the eighth, got two quick outs and jumped ahead 0-2 on Cespedes…before Cespedes drove a 98-mph fastball over the center-field wall.
It was the Tigers’ fourth homer of the game. They also hit four Monday in a 12-5 victory.
Mariners starter Taijuan Walker, who had a 1.68 ERA in his seven previous starts, wobbled through six shaky innings. He gave up just six hits, but three were homers. Even so, he handed a 6-5 lead to reliever Mark Lowe.
“They hit everything,” Walker said. “I felt like I was ahead of almost every hitter. I just couldn’t put them away.”
Lowe struck out the side in the seventh before Rodney gave up Cespedes’ homer in the eighth.
Walker’s walk-less streak ended at 28 1/3 innings, spanning 111 batters, when he lost Alex Avila with one out in the second inning after being ahead 0-2 in the count.
It turned costly in a hurry when Nick Castellanos followed with two-run homer to center. And then Marc Krauss, in his first at-bat for the Tigers, drove a homer to right.
That quickly, Detroit led 3-0.
The Mariners stormed back in the third after loading the bases with no outs when Tigers starter Kyle Ryan walked Logan Morrison before yielding singles to Mike Zunino and Chris Taylor.
Jackson then turned on an 0-2 cutter and sent it over the left-field wall for his first career grand slam.
“I didn’t know (it was out),” Jackson said. “The ball’s been flying lately, but sometimes you hit them like that, and the guy’s just out there camped under it. Once I saw Cespedes start jogging, then I knew.”
Gutierrez followed with a 409-foot drive to right-center (VIDEO LINK) for his first homer since Sept. 27, 2013. The Mariners led 5-3. Ryan exited before the inning ended.
On Monday, the Mariners erased an early 3-0 deficit by grabbing a 5-3 lead before Hisashi Iwakuma and relievers Mayckol Guaipe and David Rollins gave it back: Detroit scored nine runs over the next two innings.
This lead didn’t last either.
After Morrison failed to catch a foul pop by J.D. Martinez near the first-base rail, Martinez lined a leadoff double over Gutierrez’s head in left. Avila followed with a game-tying homer to left.
The Mariners regained the lead on Cano’s leadoff homer in the fifth inning against reliever Alex Wilson.
“It’s the kind of game,” Cano said, “when you can say as a team, when we win, that we can compete with anybody. They came back and tied the game, but we kept battling the whole game.”