SEATTLE — Now that they own their own television network, the hope among fans is that the Mariners will eventually lock up some game-altering sluggers the way Detroit already has.
On a night the Mariners deployed cost-effective fifth-starter Aaron Harang, the visiting Tigers unleashed one of their high-priced bats to single-handedly thwart his bid at victory. Harang actually pitched well until a two-run homer by Miguel Cabrera in the fifth helped send the Mariners to a 6-2 loss Tuesday night to continue a difficult homestand that includes two games against Detroit remaining.
Cabrera added a pair of run-scoring singles and had driven in all four of his team’s runs before a bases-loaded walk to Austin Jackson in the eighth made it 5-2. That would be enough for onetime Mariners starting pitcher Doug Fister to cruise to victory against his former squad on a night he scattered just four hits over seven innings.
A crowd of 12,379 at Safeco Field saw Harang, 34, make his Mariners debut after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies late last week for minor-league pitcher Steven Hemsley. Harang hadn’t started a game since the end of spring training with the Dodgers before being designated for assignment and picked up briefly by Colorado.
His night didn’t start off well, with Jackson hitting a leadoff triple to right-center. One out later, Cabrera singled to bring him home for the 1-0 lead.
Fister retired his first 10 batters and looked every bit the ground-ball machine the Mariners knew they were dealing away in July 2011. The Tigers have since made out far better than a Mariners squad that also shipped pitcher David Pauley to Detroit in that swap, receiving Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and minor-leaguers Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin in return.
Wells is now gone, the two minor-leaguers have yet to contribute anything and Furbush — who retired all four batters he faced in this game in relief of Harang — is the only player actually contributing to the major-league squad. The Mariners finally got to Furbush in the fourth when Kyle Seager and Kendrys Morales slugged back-to-back doubles for Seattle’s first hit and run of the game to tie it 1-1.
Michael Morse then singled up the middle to score Morales from second base and put the Mariners in front 2-1. Morales almost didn’t make it, but a poor throw from center and then a little tip-toe stutter to avoid the tag helped the burly Mariners designated hitter score standing up.
Morse and Morales are some freshly-imported bigger bats on one-year contracts that the Mariners could look to extend long-term now that they’ve bought a controlling stake in their own regional sports network. That deal, announced Tuesday, is expected to generate tens of millions in additional annual broadcast revenue for the team.
Harang nearly managed to leave the game with a lead, but was thwarted in the fifth by Cabrera, who changed the game with one swing the way he did so often last year en route to winning American League MVP honors.
With the count 2-2, Harang left a belt-high fastball on the outer part of the plate and Cabrera didn’t miss it, drilling the ball over the center-field wall for a two-run homer that put the Tigers ahead for good. Harang wound up getting one more out to end the inning and was pulled with his pitch count at 95.
The Mariners went scoreless for two innings against Fister after that and then Detroit added a run off Blake Beavan in the seventh to make it 4-2. Beavan was the guy dropped from the rotation to make room for Harang and this was his first bullpen outing since last week’s demotion.
Jackson got the rally going once again with a single, stole second base and then came trotting home as Cabrera delivered once again with a single through the left side for his fourth run batted in.
Cabrera nearly added to his totals in the eighth inning after a pair of bases loaded walks issued by Bobby LaFromboise and Yoervis Medina gave Detroit a 6-2 lead. Medina made his major-league debut on the second of those walks — having come up from Class AAA earlier in the day to replace the injured Stephen Pryor — and faced the prospect of Venezuelan countryman Cabrera staring back at him after that with no room on the bases.
But after falling behind 2-0 in the count, Medina rebounded and eventually caught Cabrera looking at a called third strike to end the inning. It was of small consolation for a Mariners team that had little else to celebrate.
• Manager Eric Wedge said Pryor has a “significant” strain of his lat muscle and will likely miss longer than the 15-day minimum required when he went on the DL.