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Preview: Rockies (59-82) at Mariners (68-74)
Venue: Safeco Field
Date: September 13, 2015 4:10 PM EDT
The Seattle Mariners are going nowhere come postseason baseball, but some lofty power numbers amidst a winning spurt has them feeling alright for the time being.
The Mariners flexed their muscle on Saturday and will try to keep hammering for an interleague series win Sunday against the Colorado Rockies.
Seattle (69-74) hit four home runs in Saturday’s 7-2 victory and ranks near the top of the majors with 17 in September. Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Franklin Gutierrez and Jesus Montero all went deep as the Mariners won for the eighth time in 11 games.
‘They make you look smart when they hit home runs,’ manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Cruz’s two-run homer in the seventh inning pulled him even with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the major league lead at 41. He eclipsed his career-high total from a year ago and added a run-scoring single.
‘He’s pretty special,’ McClendon said. ‘He makes any ballpark look small.’
McClendon confirmed Saturday that James Paxton will come off the disabled list to make his first start since May 28.
Paxton (3-3, 3.70 ERA) began the season as the Mariners’ No. 2 starter but has missed the last three months with a strained tendon in his left middle finger.
The left-hander had gone 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA during a five-start stretch before lasting 4 2-3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Cleveland on May 28. He left that outing with discomfort in his finger and was placed on the DL the next day.
Colorado (59-83) counters with Kyle Kendrick, who is still in the early stages of his own injury comeback. The right-hander will make his third start since coming off the DL from right shoulder inflammation that had him shelved for a month.
Kendrick (5-12, 6.25) has pitched well in two starts since returning, though he’s lasted just a total of nine innings. He allowed three runs in five innings during a 6-4 win at San Diego on Monday, his first victory since July 26.
‘I had some tough innings where I got some guys on base and in some jams, but all in all it was pretty decent,’ Kendrick said.
Jose Reyes was held out of Colorado’s lineup for the third consecutive game Saturday while nursing a sore Achilles. Reyes is hitting .308 since Aug. 18, but he went 0 for 4 in the two middle games of a four-game set against San Diego in his last action.
‘He is better,’ Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. ‘I felt like I wanted to give him another day though, because (Friday) he was really sore.’
Gutierrez started in left field Saturday for his first start since leaving a Sept. 4 game against Oakland with a strained right groin. He’s batting .333 with five homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 games.
Cruz will continue to hit in Seattle’s designated hitter spot while he recovers from a strained right quad.
‘He’s still nursing it,’ McClendon said. ‘I would not anticipate him being in the outfield through this homestand.’
The Mariners have won three of five games against Colorado this year and six of eight dating back to 2012.