PEORIA, Ariz. — Robinson Cano got two hits and made a pair of smooth plays in the field as the Seattle Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 on Saturday in a game shortened to seven innings because of rain.
Cano struck out in the first inning against C.J. Wilson. The Seattle newcomer hit an RBI single in the third and later scored on Dustin Ackley’s RBI double.
Cano was sharp at second base, making a charging grab and flip to get Ian Stewart in the first and starting a double play in the fourth. This was Cano’s second game for the Mariners — in his debut, he singled on the first pitch he saw.
Scott Baker threw two scoreless innings to start his bid for a spot in Seattle’s rotation. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out win in his first start of the spring as Seattle improved to 3-0 in Cactus League play.
The game was played despite the first rain in the Phoenix area since late December. Heavy showers blew through the Peoria area about two hours before first pitch but skies cleared and the field was deemed playable for the 1:05 p.m. start.
In the fifth inning, dark clouds started to build toward the west and finally arrived in the bottom of the seventh. A lightning flash in the distance sent fans scurrying for the exits and heavy rains followed moments later.
Justin Smoak barely missed a home run with a deep shot to center field that crashed off the batter’s eye in the second. The Mariners added two more in the third for a 4-0 lead behind Cano’s RBI and run scored.
Smoak has doubled in each of his first two games, both batting right-handed.
“He’s putting a lot of time in with (hitting coach Howard Johnson) and it’s nice to see him get positive results very early,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Mariners: Baker, trying to come back from Tommy John surgery during the 2012 season, threw 32 pitches with 22 strikes. He allowed a bloop single to Kole Calhoun to lead off the game but left him stranded at third. He walked Carlos Pena opening the second, but retired the next three.
How Baker performs during spring is vital for the Mariners rotation that has seen Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker slowed by injuries.
“I don’t know how that would benefit me in any sort of way. Maybe at one time in my career that might have come into effect, but I’ve got to worry about myself and get myself ready to pitch regardless of what those guys are doing right now,” Baker said. “It’s hard enough as it is to focus on myself getting ready so to concern myself with what other guys are experiencing right now, it seems counterproductive.”
Angels: Wilson pitched into the third before leaving after Xavier Avery’s single. Wilson was strong in the first inning, striking out the side, including Abraham Almonte and Cano looking. Cano is a career .389 hitter in the regular season against Wilson in 40 plate appearances.
Wilson felt he did well at hitting his spots in the first inning and only really missed on the 0-2 fastball to Smoak that stayed in the middle of the plate.
“It doesn’t really matter what the count is, if you hit your spots you’re going to be fine,” Wilson said.
McClendon said Seattle doesn’t expect Iwakuma or Walker to be ready by opening day because of their injury setbacks. Iwakuma will have his right middle finger in a splint for another three weeks before throwing, while Walker is being shut down for a week because of inflammation in his right shoulder.
By the time the duo make up for missed time on the mound it will be early- to mid-April before either is expected in a game.