Mariners fall behind early in loss to Angels

Rookie pitcher Roenis Elias allowed five runs; M’s comeback falls short

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.comMay 28, 2014 

SEATTLE — Rookie left-hander Roenis Elias steadied Tuesday night after a shaky start that included four doubles in a three-run second inning. The Mariners nearly erased a pair of three-run deficits against Angels ace Jered Weaver.

Nearly.

And that, really, tells you all you need to know about this 6-4 loss for the Mariners at Safeco Field. Too late and too little. You can go on to other things at this point.

Still here? OK, the details:

Elias (3-4) pitched into the seventh inning before exiting, down 4-3, with one out and a runner on third. In came Dominic Leone to face Mike Trout, who delivered a sacrifice fly to deep right.

That meant Weaver (6-3) handed off a two-run lead when Sean Burnett started the seventh. Weaver gave up three runs and seven hits in his six innings.

Burnett retired Michael Saunders on a pop to short before departing because of an injury. Fernando Salas replaced Burnett and surrendered a single to Robinson Cano, but Justin Smoak grounded into a double play.

The Angels extended their lead to 6-3 when C.J. Cron led off the eighth by crushing an 0-2 fastball from Tom Wilhelmsen for a homer.

Wilhelmsen avoided further problems despite ignoring Chris Iannetta after a two-out single. Iannetta strolled into second without a throw, but Wilhelmsen struck out Collin Cowgill.

Joe Smith worked around a

walk in the Mariners’ eighth before Ernesto Frieri closed out Weaver’s victory. Frieri gave up a run but got his seventh save and pushed the Mariners back under .500 at 25-26.

Elias breezed through the first inning, but the Angels rocked him for three runs on four hard-hit doubles in the second. Elias allowed five runs total and pushed his ERA to 4.02.

David Freese led off with a twisting drive to deep center. Cron followed with a drive over the head of left fielder Dustin Ackley before Erick Aybar ripped a drive into the left-center gap.

Elias retired Grant Green on a drive to right, but Iannetta made it 3-0 with an RBI double to left.

The Mariners got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Dustin Ackley pulled a two-out double into the right-field corner, and Nick Franklin followed with an RBI single.

Franklin’s single snapped a 0-for-11 drought.

Elias stranded two runners in the third and avoided major problems in the fourth after the Angels loaded the bases with no outs. Green singled up the middle; Iannetta was hit by a pitch; and Cowgill bunted for a single.

Kendrick’s double-play grounder produced a run for a 4-1 lead, but Elias held it there. Smoak then opened the Mariners’ fourth with a no-doubt homer to right.

The Mariners weren’t done. They loaded the bases with two outs and got an assist from Weaver with a run-scoring wild pitch. They left the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position when James Jones popped to third.

The Mariners also put the tying runs on base in the ninth against Frieri but left them there.

PAXTON SHUT DOWN

The Mariners are putting left-handed pitcher James Paxton back on the shelf after an MRI revealed inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

Paxton will do no throwing activities until the inflammation dissipates, which is expected to take at least five-to-seven days.

The announcement came three days after Paxton threw 62 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma, which marked his first game action since suffering a strained back muscle in an April 8 start against the Angels.

The news represents something of a surprise. Paxton reported some minor soreness in his triceps after Saturday’s game.

The Mariners also reported right-hander Stephen Pryor will be placed on the seven-day disabled list for minor-league players after being diagnosed with a shoulder impingement.

Pryor is recovering from a torn back muscle that sidelined him for nearly all of last season. He has allowed 16 runs and 20 hits in 18 innings between Tacoma and Double-A Jackson this season in 16 appearances with 16 walks and 13 strikeouts.

Club officials said Pryor is likely to miss at least a week.

Paxton’s latest ailment shifts the Mariners’ short-term rehab focus to right-hander Taijuan Walker, who is scheduled to begin a minor-league assignment Wednesday in Tacoma in his recovery from shoulder soreness.

Walker is slotted for 70-75 pitches against Angels Triple-A affiliate Salt Lake at Cheney Stadium. His shoulder problems surfaced in February and returned in mid-April when he appeared poised to rejoin the rotation after two rehab starts.

“Everything feels great,” he said.

Then again, Paxton reported no problems in his recovery from a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle prior to (and after) his Saturday rehab start for the Rainiers.

Paxton’s latest injury seemed to ensure at least one more start for right-hander Brandon Maurer, who is 1-3 with a 6.99 ERA in six starts. Paxton had been viewed as a possible replacement before his latest problem.

MARINERS SIGN NADY?

The Mariners appear to be the next career stop for veteran outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady.

The two sides have an agreement in place on a minor-league deal that should be confirmed in the next two days.

Nady, 35, chose to become a free agent earlier this month rather than accept an outright assignment by San Diego to Triple-A El Paso. He was 5-for-37 in 22 games for the Padres prior to being designated for assignment.

The tentative plan is for Nady to report to Tacoma in what amounts to a tryout. If productive, he would likely be summoned to the big-league club in hopes he could provide a right-handed power bat to a lefty-heavy lineup.

Nady has a .268 batting average, .323 on-base percentage and ,432 on base plus slugging percentage with 104 homers and 410 RBIs in 961 career big-league games over 12 seasons with eight teams.

CANO IN SECOND PLACE

Robinson Cano was a close second to Detroit’s Ian Kinsler in the first American League balloting update for the All-Star Game released by Major League Baseball.

Cano trails Kinsler by 5,951 votes (356,244 to 350,293) in balloting to determine the AL’s starting second baseman for the All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Fans picked Cano as the starter the past four seasons.

No other Mariners are listed among the position leaders; MLB releases the top five vote-getters for catcher, designated hitter and each of the four infield positions. It releases the top 15 outfielders.

In-stadium balloting runs through June 26, but online ballots are accepted at www.mlb.com and www.mariners.com through 8:59 p.m. (PDT) on July 3. The teams will be revealed the weekend of July 5-6.

Cano is also one of 10 AL candidates in fan balloting at www.mlb.com to determine preferences for the Home Run Derby. The poll does not determine the participants. Cano won the Derby in 2011 at Chase Field in Arizona

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

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