Baseball / Sports

Mariners infielder Robinson Cano hits an RBI single to center field to score James Jones on base in the first inning as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 at Safeco Field in Seattle Monday, May 26, 2014. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times/MCT)

Young continues run at Safeco, pitches Mariners past Angels

SEATTLE -- It's difficult to imagine where the Seattle Mariners' season would be if not for the late acquisition of Chris Young.

But with the continued injury issues and individual struggles in the starting rotation, it's safe to say Seattle wouldn't be sitting at .500 with a 25-25 record without him.

Young gave the Mariners another solid start at Safeco Field on a Monday afternoon, taking advantage of early run support and carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning in Seattle's 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Young threw 61/3 innings, allowing just one run on two hits, while striking out five and walking three to improve to 4-2. He continued his success at spacious Safeco Field--a place he's never lost. In four starts in Seattle this season, he's allowed just five runs in 271/3 innings pitched for a 1.65 earned-run average, while opposing hitters are mustering just a .141 batting average against him.

"I was trying to find an adjective for this guy today," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "What a godsend for this rotation. He's just been tremendous."

Young signed with the Mariners with on March 27 with four days remaining in spring training. At the time, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker were recovering from injuries, Roenis Elias was an untested and unproved commodity and veterans Randy Wolf and Scott Baker both opted out of their minor-league contracts. It left the Mariners in desperate need of an arm for the rotation. Two days after Wolf left over a contract dispute, the Mariners signed Young, who had spent spring training with the Nationals and was released two days before.

He had been a one-time all-star, but he also had missed most of the 2013 season after having a complicated shoulder surgery that required part of one of his ribs to be removed.

"I really didn't know what to expect," McClendon said. "It's just unbelievable. And he continues to make me say, 'It's unbelievable.' As for expectations, I really didn't have many. And if I did, I'd say he's far exceeded them."

There were a few less than stellar starts, but Young has been steady while others have struggled.

"He's filled a huge hole for us," said catcher Mike Zunino said. "He's come in and given us great starts every fifth day. He's done such a good job for us. "

Of course, the situation has worked out well for Young. There was a chance he might have had to start the season in the minor leagues if the Mariners hadn't have come calling with a $1.5 million contract.

"I try not evaluate it at this point," he said. "I love it here. I'm grateful for the opportunity and I want to continue to make the most of it. The Mariners took a chance on me and I want to reward them for it."

Young carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The only base runner over the first five innings was a leadoff walk to David Freese in the second. But a lineout double play to end the inning kept Young facing the minimum amount of hitters.

"I had a nice rhythm," Young said. "I just tried to be aggressive in the strike zone early."

With one out in the sixth, Kole Calhoun lined a single up the middle over to break up the no-hit bid.

"I try not to get caught up in results early," Young said. "They hit some balls hard early that could have easily been hits. I was aware of it, but you don't expect to throw no-hitters."

Young's only run allowed came in the seventh inning. He gave up a leadoff home run to Albert Pujols. Young faced two more batters in the inning, getting Freese to pop out and walking Raul Ibanez.

McClendon called on the bullpen to finish the game. Charlie Furbush got two outs in the seventh, Danny Farquhar pitched a perfect eighth and Fernando Rodney had a drama-free ninth inning to secure the win.

All of the offense came in the first two innings against Angels' starter Tyler Skaggs.

James Jones led off the game with an infield single and Michael Saunders followed with a bunt single to put runners on for Robinson Cano. The free-agent acquisition delivered, singling up the middle to score Jones and allow Saunders to advance to third. Justin Smoak's hard ground ball to third allowed Saunders to trot home to make it 2-0.

The Mariners pushed it to 5-0 in the second inning. Dustin Ackley singled, stole second and then advanced to third on Nick Franklin's soft ground ball. With two outs, it looked like Skaggs would get out of the inning unscathed. But shortstop Erick Aybar couldn't come up with Jones' soft ground ball, committing an error and allowing Ackley to score from third. The error became more costly when Saunders hammered a triple to right to score Jones. Cano followed with another single up the middle to score Saunders. Instead of a 2-0 game, the Angels were down 5-0 and basically done.

"We'd rather be lucky than good sometimes," McClendon said. "We got a break with those first two hits of the game and having Robby come up to the plate."

To Skaggs' credit, he didn't allow another run and just one more hit--Cano's third of the day--before being lifted after the seventh inning.

Cano finished 3 for 4 and upped his batting average to .332 -- second best in the American League.

(c)2014 The Seattle Times

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