As expected, the Mariners shuffled their roster Wednesday in the aftermath of Tuesday’s dismal 19-9 loss to Detroit that landed right-handed pitcher Felix Hernandez and outfielder Mitch Haniger on the 10-day disabled list.
The Mariners recalled three players from Triple-A Tacoma: outfielder Ben Gamel and pitchers Chase De Jong and Dillon Overton. They also selected reliever Casey Fien’s contract from the Rainiers.
Hernandez was diagnosed as having shoulder inflammation after leaving Tuesday’s game after just two innings.
"When he went out for the second inning," manager Scott Servais said, "it just didn’t feel great. It was dead. No sharp pain. Nothing like that. The ball just wasn’t coming out (right). It didn’t feel good.
"It certainly didn’t look good from where I was sitting."
Haniger left the game in the third inning because of a strained right oblique muscle, which first surfaced on a swing earlier in the at-bat before he lined a single into center field.
"Hopefully, it’s a quick return and not too big of a setback," he said. "It just grabbed at my side. I’ve never had a history with this. I don’t have issues as far as soft-tissue stuff goes."
Both were scheduled to return Wednesday night to Seattle for further evaluations.
Servais said De Jong will fill Hernandez’s slot in the rotation Sunday at Cleveland, which positions Overton to serve as the bullpen’s multi-inning reliever.
"We liked the way Chase threw the ball when he came in (Saturday) for a long relief appearance in Oakland," Servais said. "He moved the ball around very well. He is more of a starting-pitcher type.
"You saw that he takes a little while to get warm out of the bullpen. He’s got more of a routine there. So we’ll give him the first shot."
Heston and Marshall departed after yielding a combined 12 runs and 14 hits in Tuesday’s shellacking.
The severity of Hernandez’s shoulder injury is still being determined, but his own reaction in declining to discuss the situation seems to underscore his own concern.
While Haniger remains optimistic, he is likely facing an extended absence. Strained obliques tend to linger, and players typically require four-to-six weeks to recover.
Losing Haniger is a major blow to an attack that seemed to be gathering momentum after a shaky start. He heads to the disabled list with a 2.0 WAR (wins above replacement) rating that leads all players in both leagues.
Hernandez is 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA in five starts.
"With the start that Haniger has been off to," Servais said, "it’s opened a lot of eyes. Not just in our clubhouse, but around baseball. And I think everyone knows what Felix means in being able to run him out there every fifth day."
De Jong, Overton and Fien each previously spent time this season on the big-league roster. Gamel opened the season at Tacoma after Guillermo Heredia won a spring battle for duty as the club’s backup outfielder.
Gamel and Heredia were each in the starting lineup Wednesday at Comerica Park. Gamel batted .288 with a .419 on-base percentage in 18 games at Tacoma.
SEAGER SITS AGAIN
Kyle Seager remained sidelined for at least one more day because of a sore right hip. He hasn’t started at third base since April 21, although he did enter the April 22 game at Oakland as a pinch-hitter and play the final two innings in the field.
"I met with him earlier (Wednesday)," Servais said. "He argued and pleaded to get into the lineup. I certainly respect that, but with Haniger going down, we’re trying to be cautious with Kyle.
"We certainly don’t want to lose him for an extended period of time."
Taylor Motter started Wednesday at third base. Servais said he expected Seager to start Thursday’s series finale.
It was easy to overlook Tuesday that Nelson Cruz grabbed a share of the RBI lead in the American League when he drove in three runs in a 19-9 loss to the Tigers.
Cruz entered Wednesday with 17 RBIs, which matched three other players for the league lead: Texas outfielder Nomar Mazara, Tampa Bay outfielder Steven Souza and Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez.
It isn’t just RBIs, either.
Cruz carried a .297/.396/.527 split (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) into Wednesday’s game against the Tigers. All three are above his career averages.
Not bad considering Cruz spent the first 11 games below the .200 Mendoza Line and didn’t drive in a run until his fifth game of the season. He has nine RBIs in his last three games.
Three things to note heading into Tuesday’s pitching matchup between right-handers Hisashi Iwakuma and Detroit’s Justin Verlander:
***Iwakuma is 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in eight career games against the Tigers, including 1-1 and 3.20 in three starts at Comerica Park. Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.25 ERA in 20 career starts against the Mariners.
***Lots of Tigers have given Iwakuma trouble. Ian Kinsler is 13-for-34 (.382) with three homers; Victor Martinez is 7-for-18 (.389) with two homers; and Nicholas Castellanos is 5-for-10 (.500) with a homer. But Alex Avila is 0-for-11.
***Kyle Seager is 6-for-14 (.429) with two homers in his career against Verlander. Nelson Cruz is 10-for-40 (.250) with three homers, while Robinson Cano is 13-for-54 (.241) and Jarrod Dyson is 7-for-29 (.241) with 11 strikeouts.
Double-A Arkansas right-hander Dylan Unsworth got his first victory in more than 11 months Tuesday when he worked 6 2/3 innings in a 3-2 victory at Tulsa (Dodgers).
It was Unsworth’s fourth start of the season, and his second since shifting to the Travelers after opening the season at Triple-A Tacoma. He is a combined 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA.
Unsworth, 24, was off to a strong start last season at Double-A Jackson, at 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA in nine starts, before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury.
Jarrod Dyson has been hit four times by pitches, which leads all American League players…a total of 55 batters reached safely Tuesday in Detroit’s 19-9 blowout victory. The last time 55 or more batters reached safely in a nine-inning game was July 4, 2008 when 56 reached in the Rockies’ 18-17 walk-off victory over the Marlins in Denver.
It was 22 years ago Thursday — April 27, 1995 — that Randy Johnson, Bill Risley and Bobby Ayala combined on opening day for a 3-0 victory over Detroit at the Kingdome. It was the first shutout victory on opening day in franchise history.
Ken Griffey Jr. provided the game’s only runs with a three-run homer into the third deck against Tigers starter Sean Bergman in the fifth inning.
The Mariners and Tigers conclude their three-game series at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time Thursday at Comerica Park in a matchup between right-handers Hisashi Iwakuma (0-2 with a 5.31 ERA) and Detroit’s Justin Verlander (1-2, 6.04).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network, including mariners.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv).
The Mariners then head to Cleveland for the final stop on their three-city trip.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners