McClendon: Pitching, defense keys to success

McClendon: Pitching, defense keys to success

SEATTLE -- Manager Lloyd McClendon has been steadfast in his belief that the Mariners are built to win. Despite a losing record almost a month into the season, the skipper hasn't wavered.

The changes needed to make McClendon's belief a reality? Better pitching and smoother defense.

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Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton sees progress but can't overcome defensive misplays

'He's getting better each time out,' says McClendon

Paxton sees progress but can't overcome defensive misplays

SEATTLE -- Rarely is a starting pitcher happy when he doesn't make it the five innings required to qualify for a win, but Mariners left-hander James Paxton was encouraged by his progress Saturday after the Mariners lost, 8-5, to the Twins at Safeco Field.

It took Paxton (0-2) 106 pitches to get through 4 2/3 innings, and he was saddled with the loss. But he struck out seven, allowed five hits and only one of the four runs surrendered -- Eduardo Escobar's fourth-inning, solo homer -- was earned.

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Adam Lewis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners' shaky defense, pitching do them in vs. Twins

Mariners' shaky defense, pitching do them in vs. Twins

SEATTLE -- The Twins took advantage of shaky defense by the Mariners and made the most of their run-scoring opportunities to beat Seattle, 8-5, on Saturday night before 33,566 at Safeco Field. Minnesota knocked Mariners starter James Paxton out of the game in the fifth inning and strung together four consecutive frames with at least one run for the victory.

"It was a good night offensively from top to bottom. … There was a lot of contribution," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "And we talk about if we're effective offensively, it's going to be balance. I don't think they care too much about where they hit. They just kind of look and go play. And tonight we got some good results offensively."

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Adam Lewis is a contributor to MLB.com. Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Iwakuma to miss 2-4 weeks with strained lat muscle

Mariners expected to start Elias on Sunday vs. Twins

Iwakuma to miss 2-4 weeks with strained lat muscle

SEATTLE - Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will miss two to four weeks with a Grade 1 strain of his right lat muscle, the club announced Saturday.

Iwakuma, who went on the 15-day disabled list Friday, underwent a pair of MRI exams the past two days. He said he first felt discomfort while playing long toss Tuesday, and again when he played catch Friday in front of pitching coach Rick Waits and team trainer Rick Griffin before being shut down.

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Adam Lewis is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The Kid takes lead in Mariners Franchise Four voting

The Kid takes lead in Mariners Franchise Four voting

SEATTLE -- Choosing the four most impactful players in Mariners history is no easy task, as evidenced by the initial fan voting results for Major League Baseball's Franchise Four campaign.

The early results for the Mariners voting has Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Felix Hernandez, in order, leading for the top four spots. It's hard to argue with any of those selections, but a noticeable absence in the competitive field is 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki, who didn't crack Seattle's initial top four.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan sacrifices bucket of popcorn in try for foul ball

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Fan sacrifices bucket of popcorn in try for foul ball

In the top of the seventh inning of Saturday's Twins-Mariners matchup, Eduardo Nunez popped a ball into the stands at Safeco Field. In a desperate attempt at securing the potential souvenir, one fan launched a full bucket of popcorn at the ball soaring overhead. The attempt was, lamentably, unsuccessful.

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Cruz missile: Seattle slugger drives 9th homer 459 feet

Cruz missile: Seattle slugger drives 9th homer 459 feet

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz continued his home run barrage for the Mariners on Friday with a second-inning blast off right-hander Phil Hughes, raising his Major League-leading long ball total to nine in his first 16 games as the Mariners topped the Twins, 2-0, behind a shutout performance from Felix Hernandez.

Cruz's latest missile into the left-field upper deck in Safeco Field was estimated at 459 feet by Statcast, which reported the ball was traveling 113 mph as it left his bat.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix stays on fire with first shutout since 2012

Mariners ace fans 9, improves to 3-0 with 1.61 ERA

Felix stays on fire with first shutout since 2012

SEATTLE -- For a time, Felix Hernandez looked like Friday might be another one of those perfect nights. For the Mariners, a 2-0 shutout victory over the Twins worked just fine, but Seattle's ace admitted he thought he might be headed for something more until Trevor Plouffe's two-out single in the fifth.

"I felt terrible in the bullpen, but when I started the game, I was throwing everything in the strike zone and my fastball was really good and that makes everything better," Hernandez said. "I knew I had it. I had the stuff to throw a perfect game, but it didn't happen."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix finishes off Twins in shutout; Cruz crushes 9th homer

Felix finishes off Twins in shutout; Cruz crushes 9th homer

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez continued his long-running dominance of the Twins and Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison backed The King up with home runs as the Mariners topped Minnesota, 2-0, on Friday at Safeco Field.

Hernandez threw his 10th career shutout, allowing five hits and no walks and striking out nine as he improved to 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA on the year. The 29-year-old has now thrown six straight starts of eight-plus innings with two or less runs against the Twins.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Cruz a better fit for Seattle in right?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers Mariners fans' questions

Inbox: Cruz a better fit for Seattle in right?

Nelson Cruz hasn't looked good in right field, yet the majority of his starts have come there. Why doesn't he start more at DH?
-- James P., Manchester, N.J.

I keep hearing people say that Cruz is a lousy outfielder, but having watched him all spring and now in 11 of the first 15 regular-season games, I think that's a bad rap. The big man isn't a great outfielder, but he has a strong arm and certainly has handled the position adequately. Cruz made an outstanding catch at the wall on a long drive by Evan Gattis in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Astros.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

LoMo patiently waiting for hits to start dropping

Slugger disappointed in early lack of production

LoMo patiently waiting for hits to start dropping

SEATTLE -- Logan Morrison knows it's not the way you start, it's the way you finish. But yeah, he'd like to see some hits start dropping in soon and begin the process of elevating his numbers back to where he ended last season for the Mariners.

Morrison has had more than his share of hard-hit, tough-luck outs in the first 15 games of the season, and these things tend to balance out over the long haul. Still, it's not a good sign when the big fella has more stolen bases (one) than extra-base hits (zero) after his first 51 at-bats.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seattle metro bus shows supports for Mariners

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Seattle metro bus shows supports for Mariners

Let's see ... you're a local Seattle-area bus that takes people to Mariners games and want to show off your support for the home team. How do you do it? Do you hire the Mariner Moose to be your driver? Could you hand out Randy Johnson mullet wigs to passengers? Can you somehow project a Ken Griffey Jr. GIF onto the outside of the bus? (Oh please god yes).

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Happ gives struggling 'pen rest in 'huge outing'

Seattle lefty allows 2 runs in 7 1/3 innings to earn first win

Happ gives struggling 'pen rest in 'huge outing'

SEATTLE -- With a rotation that had the highest ERA in the American League at 5.90 and a bullpen that had coughed up leads the previous two nights, the Mariners received the perfect tonic on Wednesday from fifth-starter J.A. Happ in a 3-2 victory over the Astros.

Happ delivered 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball, continuing his early season excellence in his first season with Seattle, as he evened his record at 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zunino shows signs he's shaking off rough start

Mariners catcher, batting .159, slugs 2nd homer in 4 games

Zunino shows signs he's shaking off rough start

SEATTLE -- While Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager have provided plenty of punch in the middle of Seattle's order in the early going, the Mariners are going to need help from other offensive sources to consistently win games this season. And catcher Mike Zunino helped provide a spark from the No. 9 spot on Wednesday with a home run in Seattle's 3-2 win over the Astros.

Zunino is batting just .159 on the season, but his leadoff homer in the third gave Seattle a 2-0 cushion and No. 8 hitter Brad Miller added an RBI single in the fourth that stood up as the winning run after Cruz drove in his league-leading 17th run to get things started.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ earns first win, Zunino homers as Mariners edge Astros

Happ earns first win, Zunino homers as Mariners edge Astros

SEATTLE -- Veteran southpaw J.A. Happ picked up his first victory for the Mariners with 7 1/3 innings of two-run ball as Seattle snapped the Astros' four-game winning streak with a 3-2 win on Wednesday at Safeco Field.

Happ has been strong in three outings as Seattle's fifth starter and finally got rewarded as he evened his record at 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA by scattering eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners sign veteran Quentin to Minor League deal

Mariners sign veteran Quentin to Minor League deal

SEATTLE -- Two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin has signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners and will report to Triple-A Tacoma, the club announced Wednesday.

Quentin, 32, was released by the Braves on April 14 after being acquired nine days earlier as part of a trade that sent Cameron Maybin and Matt Wisler to Atlanta for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton's ERA raised to 8.40 after MLB scoring change

League overturns error charged Sunday to Mariners' Bloomquist

Paxton's ERA raised to 8.40 after MLB scoring change

SEATTLE -- An official scoring change by Major League Baseball has added five earned runs to James Paxton's start on Sunday, raising the Mariners left-hander's ERA from 5.40 to 8.40 in one swoop.

Paxton allowed seven runs in the second inning of Sunday's 11-10 victory over the Rangers, but only two of the runs were initially ruled as earned due to an error charged to shortstop Willie Bloomquist on a ground ball by Elvis Andrus.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker shows marked improvement in strong outing

Mariners' pitcher strikes out eight in best start of season

Walker shows marked improvement in strong outing

SEATTLE -- A Mariners squad that has struggled to overcome poor starting pitching early in the season saw that pattern flipped Tuesday night when a late bullpen meltdown spoiled a solid outing from young right-hander Taijuan Walker in a 6-3 loss to the Astros.

Walker allowed just one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings, a marked improvement for the 22-year-old after he'd been beaten up in two previous starts and came in with a 17.18 ERA. That mark lowered to 10.66 with his first outing of more than four frames, but he missed out on his first victory of the season when Houston rallied for five runs in the eighth off relievers Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cano drives in two, but bullpen lets lead slip

Cano drives in two, but bullpen lets lead slip

SEATTLE -- Collin McHugh racked up his 10th straight victory for the Astros as Houston rallied for a 6-3 win over the Mariners on Tuesday night to remain in first place in the early American League West race.

McHugh allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings to improve to 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA on the season and 10-0 since his last loss in July of last season. The Astros (8-6) overcame a 3-1 deficit with five runs in the eighth, capped by Jose Altuve's three-run double. The first run was unearned after an error on Robinson Cano opened the inning.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him his Mariners Musings blog. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Statcast exit velocity: Cruz vs. Harper

Seattle slugger redirects pitch at 119 mph; Nats star's homer tracked at 109.5 mph

Statcast exit velocity: Cruz vs. Harper

Who hits the ball the hardest in Major League Baseball? For the first time in history, we might be able to get an answer, and it's thanks to the revolutionary technology of Statcast.

With Tuesday night's showcase game between the Cardinals and Nationals featuring the state-of-the-art Statcast trackers for the first time on television, we can see the St. Louis and Washington sluggers in action and see just how hard they hit the ball based on exit velocity numbers.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners' 10 hits not enough against Astros

Mariners' 10 hits not enough against Astros

SEATTLE -- Houston third baseman Luis Valbuena slugged two home runs, including a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning off Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar, and the Astros won their third straight with a 7-5 victory over the Mariners on Monday.

"We showed a lot of character tonight," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I love the way we battled back on both sides. We had a chance to implode when they had a lot of traffic on and we didn't. We tacked on a few runs to tie the game and got a little momentum, and obviously Valbuena came through with some big hits."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Red-hot Cruz honored with AL Player of the Week Award

Mariners slugger slams eight HRs, caps stretch with walk-off single vs. Rangers

Red-hot Cruz honored with AL Player of the Week Award

SEATTLE -- Right fielder Nelson Cruz wasted no time making an impact on the Mariners' offense, and the big slugger's imprint was noticed, as he earned American League Player of the Week honors on Monday for his powerful performance over the previous seven days.

Cruz, 34, was selected for the week of April 13-19, during which he hit .500 with six home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs and a 1.806 OPS in six games. The big man was so good in that stretch that his manager figures he already has a step up on his next award.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McClendon concerned about struggles of Mariners' rotation

McClendon concerned about struggles of Mariners' rotation

SEATTLE -- The formula seemed pretty simple: Add a little offense to one of baseball's best pitching staffs, and boom, the Mariners figured to be in pretty good shape this season.

But a disappointing 7-5 loss to the Astros on Monday poked another early hole in that plan. Seattle's pitching again did not live up to its end of the bargain after starter Hisashi Iwakuma was staked to a two-run lead after five innings.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wilhelmsen feeling 'loads better'

Most recent MRI shows no structural damage in reliever's elbow

Wilhelmsen feeling 'loads better'

SEATTLE -- Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen hasn't been cleared to begin throwing and likely won't be ready to return when he's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, but he should know more after seeing the doctor again on Tuesday.

Wilhelmsen has been sidelined with a hyperextended right elbow since April 11. An MRI performed last week showed no structural damage; he has been waiting for the dye from the test to clear out and for the pain to entirely dissipate before resuming throwing.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz slugs 2 homers, winning hit as Seattle stuns Texas in 9th

Cruz slugs 2 homers, winning hit as Seattle stuns Texas in 9th

SEATTLE -- The Mariners rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth against Rangers closer Neftali Feliz in an 11-10 victory on Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.

Nelson Cruz delivered the big hit with a two-out single through the left side for his fifth RBI of the day after hitting a solo home run in the first and a three-run shot in the third.

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Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Gritty' Mariners don't back down in comeback win

'This team is built for greatness,' McClendon says

'Gritty' Mariners don't back down in comeback win

SEATTLE -- Seattle fell behind by five runs on two separate occasions Sunday, so when the ninth inning arrived with the Mariners trailing the Texas Rangers by one, they didn't flinch. And it didn't surprise manager Lloyd McClendon when Nelson Cruz gave the Mariners an 11-10 walk-off win with a bases-loaded single in the ninth.

He attributes the comeback ability to the makeup of his club.

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Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz drives in 5 with 2 home runs, walk-off single

Mariners slugger hit 8 HRs in first 12 games

Cruz drives in 5 with 2 home runs, walk-off single

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz capped a two-home run, five-RBI afternoon with a walk-off single to send the Mariners to an 11-10 come-from-behind victory over the Rangers on Sunday.

After striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth -- when Seattle scored three times to pull within a run -- Cruz came up with the bases full and two outs in the ninth. Austin Jackson had already tied the game with a single, and Texas closer Neftali Feliz -- who had fanned Cruz an inning earlier -- intentionally walked Robinson Cano to bring up Cruz. With the count even at 2-2, Cruz grounded a single to left field to score Seth Smith with the winning run.

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Josh Liebeskind is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.