SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano has been waiting for this. Sitting and watching his Mariners teammates fight for playoff positioning for 80 games while he was suspended, the eight-time All-Star just wanted to help.That moment finally came on Monday night when Cano launched the go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth
SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano has been waiting for this. Sitting and watching his Mariners teammates fight for playoff positioning for 80 games while he was suspended, the eight-time All-Star just wanted to help.
That moment finally came on Monday night when Cano launched the go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning to lift the Mariners to a 7-4 victory over the Astros at Safeco Field, dropping Houston into a tie for the American League West lead with Oakland and moving Seattle just 3 1/2 games back.
"I love this game so much and I love to play," Cano said. "To not be able to play, it was hard. But I'm glad I'm back. The last thing I can do is look back and worry about myself. It's just about this team. That's all that matters to me right now."
Cano went 3-for-5 with two doubles as well as his opposite-field blast off reliever Collin McHugh, a shot projected to travel 405 feet, according to Statcast™. Cano has gone 9-for-26 (.346) in six games since returning from his suspension and he played his second game at first base on Monday without a flaw in the field.
"Welcome back, Robbie Cano," manager Scott Servais said. "He's a very talented player. He was due for one of these nights."
Cano's two doubles brought his career total to 524, passing Willie Mays and moving into a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. for 46th on the all-time list. But it was his home run that sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
"Even playing in your backyard, that's what you dream about as a kid," Cano said. "That's a good feeling, especially doing it at home. You miss all those games and you want to come back, and you're not going to make up for all those games you missed, but you want to take advantage and help this team."
Astros manager AJ Hinch acknowledged Cano is a difference-maker for the Mariners.
"He's a great player," Hinch said. "He's a big addition. It's like making a huge trade at the Deadline for a middle-of-the-order bat. It's hard to navigate through him. He's been historically tough on us, this season has been tough on us, and tonight has been tough on us."
If the defending World Series champion Astros are going to win the West again, they're going to need to figure out how to beat the Mariners, who have won five straight over Houston with five matchups still remaining in the final 36 games of the regular season.
Edwin Diaz slammed the door in the ninth for his MLB-leading 48th save, which ties the franchise record first set by Fernando Rodney in 2014. The 24-year-old has saved six of Seattle's seven wins over the Astros this season.
Felix Hernandez (8-11, 5.64 ERA) gave up four runs on five hits in his first start back in the rotation in place of the injured James Paxton, but he got the Mariners through a much-needed six innings on 100 pitches to help out a short-handed bullpen.
Hernandez wound up with a no-decision when Seattle rallied to tie the game at 4 in the sixth. The former AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-5 with a 7.13 ERA over his last seven outings, but he recovered from a solo homer in the first by Marwin Gonzalez and a three-run third to keep his club in the ballgame.
Hernandez retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced and Servais felt he turned a big corner with a mid-game adjustment that created more life on the end of his pitches and much better location with his fastball.
"I don't know if it was an adjustment or anger or pride," Hernandez said. "Skip told me the last three innings the ball was coming out much better. I'll try to be angry from the first inning next time and just throw the ball."
Ben Gamel went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored in his first game back from Triple-A Tacoma, while Mitch Haniger was also 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
SERVAIS GETS TOSSED
Servais was ejected by home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski after hustling out to protect Dee Gordon, who began jawing about a called second strike in his eighth-inning at-bat. It was Servais' third ejection of the year. Gordon wound up reaching on an infield single off McHugh and Haniger followed with a walk to set up Cano's go-ahead blast.
"It was way more important to save Dee, no question," Servais said. "Obviously, Dee didn't like the call. I thought the ball was in, or up more than anything, and just got out there in the middle of it and it kind of went from there. It was a big point in the game, the fact that Dee gets on base, starts the rally going."
"It shows us he's got our back," Gordon said. "It was probably a little melodramatic on my part, but he definitely had my back at that point. I have to keep my composure a little better than that, especially being in a playoff race. But we won, so it's all good."
Hernandez racked up six strikeouts, which moved him to 2,449 for his career, passing Andy Pettitte into 40th place on the all-time list. After his sixth strikeout, setting down Carlos Correa to end the fifth, first baseman Cano tossed the ball up into the stands. Hernandez wanted the ball, however, so Gordon quickly passed the hat -- literally -- as he sent his cap and some wristbands up into the stands to the 10-year-old fan with the ball, who happily ran the souvenir down to Hernandez. More >
"It's something personal," Hernandez said of moving up the all-time chart. "Keep making history. It's something my son can look at when he grows up and say, 'My dad did this.' I'm pretty happy about it. And I'm not done yet."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
A pitch in the dirt? No problem for Gordon, who swung at an 84-mph curve from Gerrit Cole that bounced well ahead of the plate in the fourth inning. But Gordon still got his bat on it and pushed a soft grounder toward Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. Gordon was thrown out at first, but he did manage to advance Mike Zunino from second to third. More >
HE SAID IT
"I just want to go out there and compete. That's all. And prove to people I still can pitch." -- Hernandez
Mariners right-hander Mike Leake (8-7, 3.90 ERA) will get the start at 7:10 p.m. PT on Tuesday against the Astros at Safeco Field. Leake is 0-3 with a 3.50 ERA in his past nine starts, but he has pitched well in that span, and he is coming off eight scoreless innings in the team's 12-inning win against the A's. Leake is 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA in three starts this year vs. Houston, which will start Brad Peacock (2-4, 3.19 ERA).
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.