ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Seattle Mariners quickly answered those critics who thought Robinson Cano wouldn’t have enough support in the lineup to make a difference.
James Paxton pitched seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball and Cano drove in his first run for the Mariners on Wednesday night in an 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, completing a three-game sweep in the team’s first series under new manager Lloyd McClendon.
“The last couple of years, a lot of us guys were younger and going through battles and learning some things,” first baseman Justin Smoak said. “Now it’s time for guys who have been here the last couple of years to step up.”
Smoak, Mike Zunino and Corey Hart all homered for Seattle, which outscored the Angels 26-8 while sweeping a season-opening three-game set for only the second time in their 38-year history. The other time was in 1985, when they started out 6-0 at home against Oakland and Minnesota before losing 12 of their next 13.
Paxton (1-0) threw 99 pitches in his fifth big league start and struck out nine, including Josh Hamilton all three times he faced him. Hamilton also struck out against Nector Noesi for the final out after Noesi game up Mike Trout’s RBI triple and Freese’s sacrifice fly.
Paxton stranded a runner at third base in the first with the help of center fielder Abraham Almonte, who raced in to make a sliding catch on Freese’s sinking liner for the third out. He escaped another jam in the fourth by fanning Hamilton and Howie Kendrick with two men on, then struck out the side in the fifth.
Paxton became the second pitcher in Mariners history to win four of his first five big league starts. The other was Michael Pineda, who did it in 2011. Paxton, a Canadian-born left-hander, was 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA four starts last September.