THE FACTS: Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz slugged three-runs homers Sunday in helping the Mariners move back over .500 at 9-8-2 with an easy victory over the Texas Rangers.
Lefty James Paxton made his Cactus League debut by pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He yielded five singles and a walk but got away clean in a 61-pitch effort.
David Rollins, Danny Farquhar, Carson Smith and Dominic Leone completed the 10-hit shutout.
PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: Second baseman Robinson Cano deftly turned Kyle Blanks’ sharp grounder up the middle into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and third in the first.
Cano matched or topped that in the fifth by ranging to his left to corral a grounder by Leonys Martin, spinning and turning it into a force at second.
PLUS: Cruz absolutely crushed a 92-mph fastball from Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo for a three-run homer in the third inning. The ball struck high off the batters’ eye beyond the center-field wall. Cruz also had a single and a walk in three plate appearances…Backup catcher Jesus Sucre threw out another base-stealer — Martin in the second inning. Shortstop Brad Miller contributed a nice pick-and-tag on a short hop.
MINUS: Not much, really. Sucre suffered a bruised left hip after getting hit by a foul ball. He left the game as a precaution after running out his single in the sixth inning. Manager Lloyd McClendon said, “He should be fine.”
JOB BATTLES: Rollins, the Rule 5 pick from Houston, turned in another strong outing with 1 2/3 scoreless innings after replacing Paxton in fourth. Rollins has given up one run and five hits in eight innings over seven appearances…Smith pitched around two two-out singles in the eighth. Leone yielded a two-out triple in the ninth but stranded the runner by striking out the next hitter.
QUOTABLE: When one veteran ballwriter noted that “Nelson Cruz is a strong man,” McClendon responded: “I would say you’d make a (heck) of a scout.” (Can’t argue either point.)
EXTRA INNINGS: Seager returned in style to the lineup after being a late scratch Saturday because of soreness on his right side. He hit a three-run homer to the opposite field in his first at-bat.
“Like I’ve said this past winter,” McClendon said, “I think this guy eventually is going to win an MVP. He works hard, he’s getting better at his craft and he’s learning every day.”
UP NEXT: Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will start at 1:05 p.m. Monday when the Mariners play the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe. The Angels plan to start right-hander Matt Shoemaker.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will remain in Peoria to pitch against minor-leaguers in a simulated game. Iwakuma is scheduled to face the Angels in the season-opening series next month at Safeco Field.