Three-run shot highights five-run second; retiring slugger hits first of spring
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Robinson Cano's feast on Cactus League pitching continued on Monday.
The Mariners second baseman went 2-for-4 with four RBIs in the 7-6 loss to the White Sox at Peoria Stadium. Cano has hit safely in 12 of 15 Cactus League games this spring and sports a .465 batting average.
Cano had a memorable day, but you can argue the action on the mound, and not in the batter's box, might be remembered most when the regular season starts next week.
Enter Mariners starter Blake Beavan and White Sox starter Erik Johnson.
Beavan, who is competing for one of the two final spots in the Seattle rotation, cruised through the first inning, retiring all three batters he faced, but he ran into trouble in the second inning. The White Sox scored five runs in the frame, with three runs coming on a home run by Marcus Semien to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
"In the big picture, results don't matter, but obviously when you are trying to make a team and make an impression, you want good results," Beavan said. "To me, the worst part about today's outing was not making pitches when I was ahead. I think, for the most part, I was happy with everything else."
The Mariners answered with two runs in the bottom of the second against Johnson to cut Chicago's lead to 5-2. Cano drove in Seattle's third run in the fifth inning with a single, and knocked home three more with a double in the seventh inning to cut the White Sox lead to 7-6.
As for Johnson, he was charged with three runs on four hits in six innings and appears to have secured a spot in the White Sox rotation. He struck out four batters during the 94-pitch outing.
"I think today was a good one to end on and another good one to build off of," Johnson said. "If I can put as many zeros on the board for my team, be aggressive in the strike zone early, then good things will happen for me. For me it's about what I'm doing on the mound and keeping my approach the same. No matter what the record or score is, or the team, your approach stays the same."
Beavan needed a strong outing after giving up seven runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Brewers in his previous start. He made just two starts early last season and spent most of the season either in the Minor Leagues or working out of the bullpen during his two stints with the big league club.
"I'm prepared for whatever decision they make," Beavan said. "I feel like I've proven my knee is healthy, and I feel like I've proven for the most part that I'm back to where I was in 2012, and it's a matter of fine-tuning and making a little bit better pitches when I'm ahead in the count. Today, that was the biggest issue."
White Sox slugger Paul Konerko contributed a two-run home run, his first this spring, in the sixth inning to extend Chicago's lead to 7-3 and knock Beavan out of the game. Beavan was charged with seven runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Up next:Chris Sale makes his final 2014 Cactus League start on Tuesday in the club's second-to-last home contest at Camelback Ranch. Sale will cut back a bit from his 100-pitch simulated game during last Thursday's off-day in preparation for his second straight Opening Day start. Closer candidates Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Maikel Cleto also are scheduled to pitch against the Rockies. First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m. CT.