Cano went 1-for-4 in a loss to the Athletics on Tuesday, his first game back from an 80-game suspension for violation of MLB’s joint drug agreement.
Cano started at first base and did not commit any errors, an encouraging start to the Mariners‘ plan to move him around the infield in an effort to keep him in the lineup on an everyday basis. The veteran will try to help Seattle secure a playoff spot, but as per the terms of his suspension, won’t be able to participate in any postseason games.
Bergman is up to take the roster spot which belonged to James Paxton, who hit the disabled list with a forearm contusion. It’s unclear if he’ll also be taking Paxton’s spot in the rotation or if that job will go to Felix Hernandez. The fact that Bergman was called up five days before Paxton’s next turn suggests that he’s likely up in a relief role, however, as it would be a waste of a roster spot to call up a starter just to have him sit on the bench for several days.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Seattle Mariners have placed ace James Paxton on the disabled list with a forearm bruise, one day after the left-hander was struck by a line drive.
Paxton was facing the third batter in the first inning Tuesday night when Jed Lowrie lined a ball back up the middle, hitting the pitcher hard. Paxton walked toward second base in obvious pain as a team trainer and manager Scott Servais rushed onto the field.
The Mariners were expecting to do some serious damage in Oakland. They had swept a four-game series from first-place Houston, lined up their best starters for the first two games at the Coliseum and gleefully anticipated the return of Robinson Cano.
The A’s weren’t fazed.
After handing Marco Gonzales a loss in the opener, Oakland didn’t see much of ace James Paxton on Tuesday. He left to an injury after three batters, and the A’s rallied against nemesis Felix Hernandez and beat the Mariners 3-2 before 17,419 at the Coliseum.
When Blake Treinen retired Mike Zunino for the final out, the streaking A’s moved to just one game from first place and extended their lead on the Mariners in the wild-card race to 3½ games. The A’s are 38-12 since June 15, back when their deficit was 11 ½ games.
“We’re still in second place, so we’ve still got some work to do,” said shortstop Marcus Semien, who homered to open the bottom of the first inning. “Focus on winning every series we can. We won this series. If we win the next (against Houston), I think we’ll be in first place. You’ve got to focus on that.”
Jed Lowrie was a one-man wrecking crew, smacking his 100th career home run off Hernandez, a two-run shot in the second inning. Lowrie also hit a first-inning liner that forced Paxton from the game with a left forearm contusion. X-rays were negative, a sign of relief for the contending Mariners.
Hernandez took the mound, which rarely is a good sign for A’s fans who have seen him dominant their team over the years. In 49 career starts, Hernandez has a 26-11 career record and 2.70 ERA, but the A’s saw Hernandez as a reliever for the first time Tuesday.
In fact, it was King Felix’s first career appearance in relief. His struggles this year forced manager Scott Servais to make him a long reliever, and Hernandez pitched 5 2/3 innings, his biggest mistake a first-pitch curve he threw to Lowrie, who hit his 100th homer two days after collecting his 1,000th career hit.
Mike Fiers, in his second start for the A’s, worked six innings, an impressive feat considering he nearly was scratched. Fiers had back and glute soreness (Fiers called it a muscle cramp), and manager Bob Melvin considered starting Yusmeiro Petit. Fiers took the ball and threw 78 pitches, giving up runs on Nelson Cruz’s two-out bloop single in the first and Cameron Maybin’s homer in the fifth.
“These feel like playoff games. This is the spot I want to be in,” said Fiers, who was acquired from Detroit on Aug. 6. “This team has a lot of trust in me to go out there, and it speaks loudly of this organization. I want to not let them down.”
Cano went 1-for-4 and played first base in his first game following his 80-game drug suspension. The infielder was suspended May 15 after testing positive for furosemide, a diuretic that can mask performance-enhancing drugs. Cano spent part of the suspension recovering from hand surgery.
Third baseman Matt Chapman ended Cano’s eighth-inning at-bat by ranging a long way in foul territory to reach over the rolled-up tarp to grab a popup.
“That’s a will to catch the baseball,” Melvin said. “He wasn’t going to be denied if he had to go through the tarp. That was his mind-set.”
Chapman said, “I was thinking if it was in the first row in the stands, I was going to go for it.”
Oakland’s defense was glorious. Aside from the Chapman catch, center fielder Ramon Laureano made a leaping catch of Cano’s fifth-inning fly to the warning track, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy threw out speedy Dee Gordon, who tried to steal after opening the eighth with a single.
In relief of Fiers, Ryan Buchter and Yusmeiro Petit pitched the seventh, and Fernando Rodney (a day after walking all three batters he faced) worked the eighth.
Blake Treinen got two quick outs in the ninth but gave up singles to Denard Span and Kyle Seager before Zunino grounded to second baseman Lowrie, who was playing behind the bag.
Paxton allowed a leadoff home run to Oakland’s Marcus Semien and struck out Matt Chapman before Jed Lowrie lined a 2-1 pitch back up the middle. The ball appeared to hit Paxton on or near his pitching arm.
Manager Scott Servais and a team trainer rushed from the dugout to check on Paxton, who seemed hesitant to move his left arm.
Paxton is 10-5 with a 3.68 ERA this season. He entered the day 11th among qualified starters with 3.6 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs.
Hernandez quickly began warming up to make his first career relief appearance following 398 starts. The 32-year-old was removed from the rotation last week amid a season full of struggles.
The Mariners on Tuesday will activate second baseman Robinson Cano after his 80-game suspension and are expected to have him in the lineup against the Athletics, MLB.com reported.
His return from the suspension for violating MLB’s policy on performance enhancers is timely on two fronts.
First, the Mariners — 69-51 and 2 1/2 games back of the A’s for the second AL wild card entering Tuesday’s games — are fighting for their first postseason berth in 17 years and, second, Dee Gordon, who replaced Cano at second during his suspension, has been sidelined with a sore left shoulder.
Yet even if Gordon were healthy, the Mariners are eager to get Cano’s bat to the lineup, MLB.com reported, noting, that means he’ll play some games at first base in place of Ryon Healy, as well as giving Gordon a break at second or Kyle Seager a break at third.
“There is no great blueprint that says this is what is going to happen 33 percent of the time or 67 percent of the time,” manager Scott Servais said Monday in advance of Cano’s activaiton. “We have to play it day by day and series by series. It’s a great offensive player to add to our mix, and the fact he can move around the field and is willing to do it, it should really keep some guys fresh and hopefully it pays dividends.”
Cano slashed .287/.385/.441 in 39 games this season before his suspension and is an eight-time All-Star with 305 career homers.