SEATTLE -- On Fan Appreciation Night, the Mariners gave folks who like offense plenty to appreciate Friday at Safeco Field, rolling to a 12-6 victory over the Rangers behind a four-hit night from Robinson Cano.The Mariners second baseman continued his hot stretch run as he went 4-for-5 with a double
SEATTLE -- On Fan Appreciation Night, the Mariners gave folks who like offense plenty to appreciate Friday at Safeco Field, rolling to a 12-6 victory over the Rangers behind a four-hit night from Robinson Cano.
The Mariners second baseman continued his hot stretch run as he went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, lifting his average to a team-leading .304 with two games remaining. Cano, who missed 80 games due to a suspension in midseason, has hit .476 (20-for-42) with six doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs in the last 10 games.
"We want to go out and show people how much we care and respect the fans," Cano said. "We want to go out and compete even in a game that doesn't mean anything. I love to go out and compete, no matter if we're in or out. I have so much respect for the game that I hate to give up an at-bat or go out and not play 100 percent. It's always good when you can go out and help the team win."
Wade LeBlanc allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits over five innings, but picked up the win after being staked to a 9-0 lead after three frames.
"I was executing pitches for three innings, probably the best I've felt the whole second half," LeBlanc said. "Then the fourth and fifth innings, it felt like I'd never thrown a baseball before. It happens sometimes. Fortunately tonight, guys piled on some runs and gave me a cushion."
The 34-year-old southpaw finished with career highs for wins and innings pitched, going 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 162 innings. LeBlanc didn't sign with Seattle until the final days of Spring Training, but wound up moving into the rotation in early May and signing a contract extension at midseason that assures he'll be back again next year.
"This season was definitely a huge blessing," LeBlanc said. "If you'd have asked me on March 21 where we'd be now, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you I'd be standing here. It's humbling. It's been a really fun experience to be part of this and go to battle with these guys every day.
"It didn't turn out quite the way we wanted, but there's not a lot of teams it does work out for. Our job is to figure out what we can be more consistent at in the offseason and get back at in Spring Training."
The Mariners improved to 87-73 with two games remaining and -- despite missing the playoffs -- have tied for the seventh-most victories in a season in the franchise's 42-year history.
"It's how we got there, which is a little crazy with the start we had and then tailing off in the second half," manager Scott Servais said. "You shake your head at it. You'll look up at the end of the year and I don't know what we'll end up winning, but it's going to be a respectable number. But it's just how you got there. If we'd gotten off to a slow start and come gangbusters at the end, you might feel a little different about it."
Seattle scored seven times in the second inning and held a nine-run lead after three innings before the Rangers started chipping away. Closer Edwin Diaz was warming in the bottom of the eighth with a 9-6 lead and the potential to come in for a shot at his 57th save -- and a tie for second on MLB's all-time single-season list -- until Guillermo Heredia's RBI double and a two-run single by Cameron Maybin pushed the lead back to six.
Maybin went 3-for-5 with a double and four RBIs and Heredia was 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Mariners jumped out to the early lead with their seven-run second, with plenty of help from the Rangers, including four walks by starter Martin Perez. But the big blow was Jean Segura's deep drive to right field with the bases loaded that scored three runs when it glanced off Nomar Mazara's glove for a two-base error. Segura came out of the game after scoring on a slide at the plate on Cano's RBI single when Servais felt he didn't run hard on the play.
"Jean is fine," Servais said. "We're going to play hard through the end of the year and I don't think Jean gave a really good effort trying to score from second and he came out of the game."
Cano's sixth-inning double was the 534th of his career, tying him with Lou Gehrig for 41st on MLB's all-time list. Next up is Al Simmons, another Hall of Famer, with 539.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Heredia has been outstanding in center field all year and the 27-year-old Cuban did it again in the fourth inning, making a leaping catch with his back to the wall to pull down a Jurickson Profar drive projected by Statcast™ at 399 feet. Heredia caught the ball right at the yellow line atop the fence to help limit the damage, though the Rangers wound up scoring four runs that inning anyway thanks to a two-run blast by Robinson Chirinos.
HE SAID IT
"Awesome season for Wade LeBlanc. He got an opportunity and he ran with it." -- Servais, on the veteran starter finding a niche in the rotation
James Paxton (11-6, 3.85 ERA) makes his final start of the year in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game against former Mariners right-hander Adrian Sampson (0-2, 4.96). Paxton has made just seven starts since the All-Star break due to injuries and illness, going 3-2 with a 4.37 ERA.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.