Told it was his first career win ever at Tropicana Field, the King couldn't quite believe it.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Nelson Cruz has created quite a splash for the Mariners in his inaugural season in Seattle, but the big slugger took that to a new level by landing his game-winning three-run blast into the open fish tank in right-center field at Tropicana Field in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Rays.
Cruz became just the fourth player ever to splash down among the rays in the 35-foot, 10,000-gallon "touch tank" where fans can literally feel the fish. The others were Jose Lobaton of the Rays in 2013, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers in 2013 and Luis Gonzalez of the Dodgers in 2007.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Mariners hit a go-ahead home run off Rays closer Brad Boxberger for the second consecutive game on Wednesday, this one a three-run shot off the bat of Nelson Cruz, to give Seattle a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay and a series sweep.
Boxberger came in to relieve Chris Archer in the top of the ninth and proceeded to strike out Mike Zunino and Austin Jackson to start the inning, but walked Seth Smith and Robinson Cano to bring Cruz to the plate. After getting ahead, 1-0, Cruz launched a ball over the center-field wall and into the Rays' Touch Tank. It was only the fourth home run to ever land in the Touch Tank.
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com and Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
ST. PETERSBURG -- As a 13-year Major League veteran, Joe Beimel has been in a lot of situations in his baseball career. Just not a lot of save situations.
But Beimel, a lefty specialist, got the call in the bottom of the 10th inning in Tuesday's 7-6 victory for the Mariners over the Rays and mowed down three straight batters to notch his first save since 2009 while with the Nationals and the fifth in 632 relief appearances.
The Indians wrapped up a six-game homestand and head to Seattle for the first of two meetings between the clubs this season. For Seattle, it marks the beginning of an 11-game homestand, the longest of its season. Corey Kluber (2-5, 3.49 ERA) starts the opener for Cleveland, opposing James Paxton (3-2, 3.52 ERA) for Seattle.
Things to know about this game
August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kyle Seager did in the Rays with two home runs on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, leading the Mariners to a 7-6 win in 10 innings.
Facing Brad Boxberger with one out in the 10th, Seager connected on an 0-2 fastball that went over the center-field wall for his second home run of the game and a one-run lead for the Mariners.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kyle Seager is as understated as they come, even in the wake of a two-homer, six-RBI night that carried the Mariners to a 7-6, 10-inning victory over the Rays on Tuesday at Tropicana Field. But Seager's bat spoke loudly, helping the Mariners pull out a roller-coaster win that clinched a winning road trip and inched them closer to .500.
Seager ripped a grand slam in the eighth to put Seattle ahead, 6-3, then saved the day in the 10th with a solo shot to center field after Tampa Bay tied the score in the bottom of the ninth against closer Fernando Rodney with help from an uncharacteristic poor throw from Robinson Cano on what should have been the game-ending double play.
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ST. PETERSBURG -- It isn't hard to make a case for Nelson Cruz as an American League All-Star after his torrid first two months with the Mariners, which is why the 34-year-old slugger finds himself atop the early fan voting at designated hitter for this year's Midsummer Classic.
Cruz led all DHs in the initial results, released on Tuesday by Major League Baseball, with 1,225,255 votes, well ahead of Kendrys Morales of the Royals at 918,049. Cruz heads into Tuesday's games leading the Majors with 17 home runs and is in first in the AL in slugging percentage, second in RBIs and third in batting average.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Center fielder Austin Jackson came off the disabled list on Tuesday and immediately played a role in helping the Mariners beat the Rays, 7-6, in 10 innings.
Jackson wasted no time making an impact. He lined a single up the middle off Rays starter Alex Colome to lead off the game, stole second and advanced to third on an error, then scored on a single by Seth Smith.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Center fielder Austin Jackson was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and is expected to immediately be back in the lineup against the Rays as he returns from a three-week absence with a sprained right ankle.
In a corresponding move, reliever Danny Farquhar was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma after Monday's 4-1 victory over the Rays. Seattle will temporarily go with a six-man bullpen, which buys time to solve the position-player log jam created by Jackson's return.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Robinson Cano led the Mariners' offense en route to a 4-1 Memorial Day win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Robinson Cano hasn't had many extended slumps in his career, so the relief was visible when he smoked an RBI single in the first inning of Seattle's 4-1 victory over the Rays on Monday and followed with another run-scoring base hit in the eighth.
"That's what I want," Cano said after going 2-for-4 with his first two RBIs in the past 12 games. "I worked so hard in the offseason, but nothing is going to be perfect. You're going to go through good things and bad things. My career has had a lot of good things. It's times like this when you have to be ready, and those are the kind of things that make you stronger and a better player."
ST. PETERSBURG -- Left-hander Roenis Elias has now made six starts in place of the injured Hisashi Iwakuma, but the youngster is doing more than just filling in. Elias has become one of the cornerstones of Seattle's improved pitching staff, and he recorded his fifth straight quality start in Seattle's 4-1 win over Tampa Bay on Monday.
"Any time you lose a guy of Iwakuma's status, that's a big hit," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "But it was nice to have this young man there waiting in the wings. And he hasn't disappointed."
ST. PETERSBURG -- When veteran reliever Mark Lowe signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners in December, more than a few eyebrows were raised, as people questioned why the 31-year-old would rest his fate on trying to land a job with one of baseball's deepest and best bullpens.
Lowe, a 10-year Major League veteran who pitched in two World Series for the Rangers, had spent most of the previous two seasons in the Minors with the Angels and Indians and seemingly was destined for more of the same with the Mariners.
Chris Colabello reached base three times, and Justin Smoak added an RBI single as Toronto avoided falling eight games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season. The combined efforts also allowed the Blue Jays to avoid getting swept for the second time in their last three series.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
TORONTO -- The midseason transition of Brad Miller from starting shortstop to super-utility player has been one of the Mariners' more intriguing storylines in recent weeks, and that plot continues developing, as Miller filled in for second baseman Robinson Cano in Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
Miller has now played all three outfield positions as well as second base, designated hitter and his familiar shortstop role in a one-week span. It's a big change, but Miller comes to the park each day with an open mind, waiting to see what role awaits.
TORONTO -- Left-hander James Paxton continued his strong recent surge on Saturday as the Mariners topped the Blue Jays, 3-2, for their second straight win at Rogers Centre.
Paxton saw his string of scoreless innings end at 20 on Edwin Encarnacion's first-inning sacrifice fly, but the 26-year-old Canadian wound up throwing six innings of two-run ball on four hits as he improved to 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA. Paxton is 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA over his last six starts for a Seattle club that is now 3-2 on this road trip and 20-22 overall. More >
TORONTO -- The Mariners have had their "Boomstick" in right field much of the season with new slugger Nelson Cruz. But add "Bloomstick" to the mix after veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist stepped in for his first start in right this season, ripped the game-deciding two-run double and also threw out a runner at second in Seattle's 3-2 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday.
"I told Cruz, we found a power-hitting right fielder," said Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon.
TORONTO -- Coming home to Canada was a lot more satisfying for James Paxton on Saturday after he pitched the Mariners to a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays. The native of Ladner, British Columbia, was hit hard in his home-country debut a year ago, but made amends with six innings of four-hit ball as he won his third straight decision for Seattle.
"I think the more times we come up here each year, it'll get better and better, and I'll get more comfortable with it," Paxton said. ""It's always different to come back up here. I just have to know what that feels like so I'm ready for it."
TORONTO -- Mariners closer Fernando Rodney had allowed runs in five of his seven May appearances, but the veteran right-hander has recorded 10 straight saves since his one blown opportunity in early April, and manager Lloyd McClendon said that means Rodney is getting his job done. The closer did so again with a clean ninth in Seattle's 3-2 win over the Blue Jays.
Rodney allowed a two-run homer to Chris Colabello in Friday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, and his ERA is still a lofty 6.23 after Saturday's win, but he's saved 12 of 13 games this year and 33 of his last 34 opportunities dating back to last July.
"I don't think you worry about his ERA much," McClendon said prior to Saturday's game. "A lot of that is inflated from [two early-season games]. My old skipper told me this a long time ago: Your responsibility as a manager is to get the ball to your closer in the ninth inning. After that, what are you going to do? He either wins it or loses it."
TORONTO -- When last seen at Rogers Centre, Felix Hernandez was getting hit hard in a 10-2 loss to the Blue Jays last September in a game that might have cost him his second American League Cy Young Award and a series that ultimately cost Seattle a shot at an AL Wild Card berth.
But the King was back on his familiar perch on Friday, stifling Toronto on four hits and one run over seven innings in a 4-3 victory that improved his record to 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA.
TORONTO -- Felix Hernandez had another dominating performance while Nelson Cruz homered and Logan Morrison added a two-run triple in the Mariners' 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
Hernandez surrendered a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the first inning, but was borderline flawless from that point on. He faced the minimum from the second inning through the fifth and allowed only two baserunners to reach scoring position.
Gregor Chisholm and Greg Johns are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
TORONTO -- The Mariners got another homer from Nelson Cruz on Friday and this time enough offense to go along with it to add up to a series-opening win as Seattle topped the Blue Jays, 4-3, at Rogers Centre.
Of Cruz's Major League-leading 17 home runs, 13 have been solo, including his leadoff line drive to center field in the sixth off Toronto's starter Marco Estrada. At the time, the blast gave Seattle a 4-1 lead, but it held up as the winning run after closer Fernando Rodney allowed a two-run homer in the ninth.
TORONTO -- Michael Saunders is on the disabled list at the moment for the Blue Jays, so the longtime Mariners outfielder had plenty of time to catch up with old acquaintances prior to Friday's series opener with Seattle on Friday at Rogers Centre.
Saunders, traded to Toronto for lefty J.A. Happ in December, spent considerable time chatting with former teammates, trainers, coaches and media members on the field prior to batting practice. The Mariners were the only professional team he'd ever played for prior to this year.
TORONTO -- Even though J.A. Happ threw only two innings and 49 pitches in Seattle's rain-delayed 5-4 loss to the Orioles on Thursday in Baltimore, manager Lloyd McClendon said he'll keep the veteran lefty on his normal four days of rest before his next outing on Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
Happ's start was short-circuited by a two-hour, five-minute rain delay. After Happ gave up four runs in two innings, McClendon went to his bullpen for the remainder of the game due to the long waiting period.
BALTIMORE -- J.J. Hardy delivered the decisive hit with a single up the middle in the eighth to give the Orioles a 5-4 win and series victory over the Mariners on a cold and rainy Thursday at Camden Yards.
Steve Pearce got Baltimore started in the first inning with a grand slam, the first of his career, but the game was halted due to rain in the middle of the third inning. Upon returning, the Mariners' bullpen held the Orioles hitless for five innings while tying the game at 4, thanks to Rickie Weeks' pinch-hit two-run single in the fourth and Logan Morrison's bases-loaded walk in the seventh.
Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jake Kring-Schreifels is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.