Robinson Cano had been sliding. Not really slumping. It’s only been a week. But sliding. Just 5-for-26 in his previous seven games. So this was overdue.
"He can go hitless or not look great up there for a few days," manager Scott Servais said, "but, usually, it doesn’t last too long."
Cano hit two homers and drove in six runs Thursday as the Mariners stretched their winning streak to five games by completing a four-game sweep over the Detroit Tigers with a 9-6 victory at Safeco Field.
Andrew Moore got the victory in his big-league debut after holding the Tigers to three runs in seven innings. It got tight in the eighth inning because Max Povse, also in his debut, got cuffed around for three two-out runs.
But the margin was sufficient, and much of that margin came courtesy of Cano, who hit a two-run homer in the third inning against Tigers starter Daniel Norris before hitting a grand slam in the seventh against Francisco Rodriguez.
"I'm not looking at my power numbers," Cano said. "But like tonight, sometimes you’ve got men in scoring position, you (want to come through).
"Tonight, I hit a homer, but it’s not about how many homers I hit. I just want to do my job with men in scoring position."
That hasn’t been a strength this year. Cano entered the night with a pedestrian .260 average with runners in scoring position, and just .229 with two outs and runners on base.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that, after his big night, he pointed to the contributions of others this season throughout the lineup.
"It feels good to see (Ben) Gamel come from the minor leagues and do what he’s doing," Cano said. "He’s been big time in the lineup, and he was hitting seventh today. You can’t just focus on the three guys (in the middle).
"The most important part is the bottom part of the lineup. The guys at the bottom of the lineup are doing their job. They’re getting on base for us. That’s big. For a team to win a lot of games, you need the bottom part of the lineup to help you."
The Mariners have scored 127 runs so far in June. That ranks second in the American League to the New York Yankees, who have scored 131. So just imagine if Cano gets going.
"He was due," Servais said. "He doesn’t like everybody else getting all of the attention. He wants to get all of the attention. Tonight, offensively, he carried the load for us."
Three takeaways from Thursday’s victory:
***What’s next for Moore?: It’s possible that Moore’s reward for a solid effort in winning his big-league debut could be a trip back to Triple-A Tacoma,
The Mariners need to clear space Friday on their active roster in order to activate Felix Hernandez from the disabled list and, with two open dates next week, won’t need a fifth starter until early July.
There are other options. It could be someone else who gets demoted, but even if it is Moore, it figures to be a brief departure that includes a round-trip ticket.
With Hisashi Iwakuma’s status now uncertain — he will be recalled from his rehab assignment for further evaluations on his sore shoulder — Moore looms as the leading choice when the rotation again needs a fifth starter.
***Cishek steps up: Former closer Steve Cishek stepped in Thursday for a fatigued Edwin Diaz and recorded a one-two-three ninth inning for his fist save since last July 30.
The Mariners turned to Cishek, who had 25 saves last season, because Diaz had pitched the four previous days. Cishek responded with a 12-pitch inning that included two strikeouts.
Cishek is only now getting back into form after undergoing surgery last October to repair a torn labrum in his hip. He wasn’t activated from the disabled list until May 15.
"When we first brought him back," Servais said, "I thought he could help us, but he wasn’t at 100 percent yet. You could tell how the ball was coming out of his hand, it didn’t have the same life on the sinking fastball.
"The last couple of times out, it’s been much better. I thought tonight was the best it’s been all year. We need him."
Cishek has allowed two runs and six hits over 10 2/3 innings over his last 10 appearances.
***In the black: The Mariners, for the first time this season, can look at the morning paper and see they have a winning record at 38-37. It’s been a long haul after falling eight games under .500 at 21-29 after a May 27 loss at Boston.
The Mariners are 17-8 since that point, which is the American League’s best record in that span.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners