Seattle Mariners

Three takeaways after Mariners beat Braves and get encouraging news on Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano held his sore left hamstring as he walked from the field in the third inning alongside trainer Rob Nodine.
Robinson Cano held his sore left hamstring as he walked from the field in the third inning alongside trainer Rob Nodine. AP

The game, a wild ride that ended well, almost became secondary Wednesday night for the Mariners from the point that second baseman Robinson Cano limped from the field after a double in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves.

The Mariners subsequently characterized the injury as "tightness" in Cano’s left hamstring, which is encouraging. Had they termed it a "strain" — a tear in the hamstring — Cano would almost certainly be headed for the disabled list.

Instead, it’s possible Cano could be ready to play Friday night when the Mariners open a three-game weekend series against the Yankees, his former club, in New York.

"He will probably be day to day," manager Scott Servais said. "He had pretty good strength in (the hamstring) after the game. When he came out, they tested it."

As for the game, Kyle Seager’s three-run homer capped a five-run eighth inning that carried the Mariners to a 9-6 victory over the Braves in a roller-coaster game at SunTrust Park.

"Coming from behind like that," Seager said, "our bullpen has been phenomenal, so it’s nice to be able to pick them up every bow and then. We got a lot of big hits that inning."

Cano wasn’t the only Mariner injured in Wednesday’s victory. Center fielder Guillermo Heredia left the game in the seventh inning shortly after being hit by a pitch in the right forearm by Braves reliever Jason Motte.

"Heredia has been hit on that forearm a couple of times in the last week or so," Servais said. "He’s real tender there. We won’t know anything (more about Cano and Heredia) until we get to New York.

"Hopefully, they’re going to be OK. Initial signs are they’re going to be fine. But will they be available Friday or not? We just don’t know yet."

The Mariners improved to 65-63 and are 4-2 midway through a 12-game trip that spans four cities. They have an open date Thursday — and they can use it to recover.

After falling behind 2-0 and 3-2, the Mariners rallied to take a 4-3 lead through six innings behind Erasmo Ramirez before Marc Rzepczynski’s two-base throwing error on a pickoff play helped Atlanta score twice in the seventh.

Jean Segura broke a 0-for-17 skid when he ignited the five-run eighth with a leadoff double against Jim Johnson, who then walked Yonder Alonso before a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third.

Normally, that would have brought Cano to the plate. Instead, it was Taylor Motter, and he lined a two-run single into center that put the Mariners back on top.

"Get a fastball and hit it hard," Motter said. "That’s the only thing running through my head."

After the Braves replaced Johnson with Dan Winkler, Seager sent a drive to center that hit the top of the wall and bounced over.

"I thought he (Ender Inciarte) caught it," Seager said. "I didn't see it until it bounced. I saw it up in the air and in the stands. That made me feel a whole lot better."

Atlanta got one run back later in the inning against Nick Vincent before Edwin Diaz got the final four outs for his 29th save. Diaz struck out the side in the ninth inning.

"Nice win, and we win the series," Servais said. "That is the goal. Keep chugging along here and keep winning series."


***Let it go: It’s easier said than done, but pitchers are generally better off by not reaching for a grounder. (Reaching for one is the problem; handling a routine hopper to the mound or fielding a bunt is usually fine.)

Ramirez deflected Inciarte’s leadoff hopper in the first inning that appeared headed for Segura at shortstop. A likely out turned into a single that ignited a two-run inning.

After that, Ramirez permitted just one additional run over rate next five innings for his third consecutive quality start. He also had two singles in three at-bats — just the third pitcher in franchise history to record a multi-hit game.

Freddy Garcia did it twice, in 2000 at Arizona and in 2002 at Cincinnati. Hector Noesi did it in 2012 at San Diego.

"He got a couple of big knocks," Servais said. "Kept some rallies going. But the biggest thing was he was able to get through six innings after a couple of rough innings."

***More mistakes: What happened to the Mariners’ defense in Atlanta?

Rzepczynski’s two-base throwing error on a routine pickoff play snatched a victory away from Ramirez and helped put the Mariners in a late hole.

The Mariners survived a season-high four errors Monday in winning the series opener but had two costly errors in Tuesday’s loss. It’s wasn’t just errors on the scoresheet, either.

Example: Heredia committed a fundamental mistake in the second inning by overthrowing the cutoff man.

The Braves had a runner on second with one out when Inciarte poked a single into center. Third-base coach Ron Washington, respecting Heredia’s arm, held Dansby Swanson at third base.

But Inciarte recognized Heredia’s mistake and chugged into second base without a throw.

***Passing the Babe; chasing the Man: Cano's injury came on his second double of the game, which was notable in that it boosted his career total to 507 and moved him past Babe Ruth and into 57th place on MLB’s all-time list.

Cano now has 28 doubles this season, which means he needs just two more to reach 30 for all 13 seasons in his career. He is already the only player in MLB history to reach 30 doubles in the first 12 seasons of a career.

And further: Stan (the Man) Musial is the only player with to get 30 doubles in more than 12 consecutive years. He had a 16-year run from 1942-58. Musial missed the 1945 season because of military service.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners