Cano homer lifts Mariners past Astros in 11 innings
HOUSTON -- Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano brutalizing the Astros wasn't much of a surprise. That he was presented a chance to do so yet again late Monday night was far more shocking than the result of that opportunity.
Cano homered twice, including with two outs in the 11th inning, to carry the Seattle Mariners to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Cano cranked his 35th home run of the season off Astros right-hander Luke Gregerson (4-3) with Gregerson one strike away from striking out the side. Mariners right-hander Nick Vincent earned his third save by stranding two baserunners in the bottom of the 11th while right-hander Drew Storen (4-3) won in relief.
"It's fun," said Cano, who is batting .353 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs against the Astros this season. "I always say this: every win is (one) you can enjoy and have fun. Games like this, I'm not going to lie you can see it on the board ... it went to the ninth and you hope you're going to win the game and they tie the game and we were able to come back and win the game."
The Mariners (83-73) moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Astros (82-75) in the chase for an American League wild-card slot. Both Toronto (86-70), which occupies the top spot, and Detroit (83-73) lost on Monday while the Orioles (85-71) were idle.
With the Astros trailing 3-1, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis all delivered singles in the ninth, with Correa scoring Jose Altuve with the tying run after Altuve plated Springer with a fielder's choice. Houston rallied against Mariners closer Edwin Diaz to send the game into extras.
Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma allowed one run on four hits over six innings. He induced double plays to elude danger in the first and second innings, closing the second with a double-play grounder off the bat to Tony Kemp after Correa opened the frame with a hit and Gattis walked. Iwakuma then set the side down in order in the third, fourth and fifth before surrendering a run the sixth.
Gonzalez dumped a two-out double into the right-field corner, scoring Jake Marisnick, who walked, and pulling the Astros to within a run. But when Altuve followed with a sharp single to left field, Astros third base coach Gary Pettis made the dubious decision to send Gonzalez home. The throw from left fielder Nori Aoki beat Gonzalez by a mile. Catcher Mike Zunino applied the tag to end the frame.
"It did help," Iwakuma said of the double plays. "We scored early and they gave me the lead early. When I was in big situations, I was trying to keep the ball down and hoping they would roll over and it worked out well with those two double plays."
Astros right-hander Collin McHugh had worked consecutive scoreless starts against the Mariners in Seattle and surrendered a total of one earned run over his last three starts and 20 innings against them. But, down 1-0, McHugh allowed a solo home run to Cano in the third inning. For Cano, it was his career-high 34th dinger.
"You can see his numbers -- he knows how to hit," McHugh said of Cano. "I don't like giving hitters too much credit, especially guys you have to face 50 times a year, but he's one of the best in the league. Games like today showcase that."
Said Astros manager A.J. Hinch: "We didn't control Cano at all."
NOTES: Astros OF Colby Rasmus will see a specialist on Tuesday in Philadelphia for a hip/groin issue that has sidelined him for more than a week. He made his last start on Sept. 16 at Seattle and pinch-hit the following two games. Rasmus, who signed a one-year, $15.8 million contract during the offseason, is not expected to return this season. ... Mariners DH Nelson Cruz was in the starting lineup despite departing early on Sunday with a sore left wrist. Cruz swatted two home runs against the Twins before exiting and took limited batting practice on Monday to prevent overworking the wrist before the game. ... Astros RHP Lance McCullers will continue his rehab in Kissimmee, Fla., where he will face live hitters for the first time since landing on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 3 with right elbow discomfort. McCullers completed two bullpen sessions in recent days, his first since the injury. ... Astros 3B Alex Bregman ramped up baseball activities and participated in batting practice on Monday. Bregman (right hamstring) has been sidelined since Sept. 15.