DENVER -- Nelson Cruz homered for the fifth straight game -- his second such streak this year -- and Robinson Cano drove in three runs as the Mariners outslugged the Rockies, 10-4, at Coors Field on Tuesday night. The result came on the night of Rockies pitching prospect Jon Gray's Major League debut.
Cruz's homer to lead off the seventh, off Rockies reliever Scott Oberg for a 6-4 lead, was his 31st of the season. Cruz also homered in five straight games April 11-15. He and the Dodgers' Joc Pederson are the only players in the Majors with multiple home run streaks of four or more games. Cruz's homer came an inning after the game's key hit, a two-run, pinch-hit single by Franklin Gutierrez in the sixth off Christian Friedrich (0-3).
"We're building, we're confident," Cruz said after the Mariners won for the fourth time in their past five games to pull to 50-58. "Anything can happen. We still have a lot of games left and we're just going to play like every game it's the last. And hopefully we can get something good from this."
Gray, the Rockies' top pick in 2013, threw 33 pitches in the Mariners' two-run first. He finished with 77 pitches in four innings, with five hits, three runs (two earned) and four strikeouts against two walks. Gray, who learned Sunday he was being promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque, admitted his head spun early.
"I was focused more as the game went on," Gray said. "There was a lot of stuff going on. It was a pretty crazy last couple of days. But once it was game time, you've got to really lock in."
Another top Rockies pick, Kyle Parker (2010), delivered his first Major League home run, off Mayckol Guaipe to lead off the sixth.
"It's nice to just come out and play baseball," said Parker, who was called up for a second time this year on Saturday. "The last couple days, I felt like I always do when I play -- going out and just playing baseball and not really thinking. Just reacting and having a good time."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Turning Gray skies bright: Gray needed 33 pitches during the Mariners' two-run first inning, but settled in with a perfect second. However, how would he navigate the top of the order in the third? Gray struck out Austin Jackson on a 94-mph fastball with the count full. With two out, Cruz reached on an infield single and Cano walked, but Gray worked Jesus Montero into a harmless grounder to short. More >
Guti in a pinch: Gutierrez is turning into Mr. Clutch for the Mariners and he delivered again with a two-run pinch-hit single in the sixth to give the Mariners a 5-3 lead. The veteran outfielder hit a pinch-hit grand slam to beat the Tigers on July 21, and had a walk-off homer in the 10th inning on July 26 against the Blue Jays. After sitting out last season with health issues, the 32-year-old has provided a big lift off the bench since being called up on June 24 and is hitting .274 with 10 RBIs in 62 at-bats.
"He knows what he's doing at the plate," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "He's a veteran that has a beautiful swing. He really does. He stays inside the ball, never panics, and has the ability to slow the moment down. And he's done it time and time again for us."
Cruz keeps on crunching: Cruz has been on fire the past two weeks and the Mariners right fielder lit it up again with his solo homer leading off the seventh, a massive blast off Oberg that was projected to land 456 feet from home plate by Statcast™ after leaving the bat at 112 mph. Cruz has gone deep in five straight games to hike his season total to 31, including a Major League-leading 24 on the road. The 34-year-old went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 15 games -- the longest active streak in the Majors -- during which he's hit .433 (29-for-67) with four doubles, 10 homers and 14 RBIs.
How hot is he right now? "I guess a little bit, yeah," Cruz said with a smile. More >
Kyle crushes: Parker's blast came on an 83-mph breaking ball and trimmed Colorado's deficit to 5-4. The long ball, which was projected by Statcast™ to land 428 feet away, was just his second home run at any level since June 20. With outfielder Corey Dickerson on the disabled list and first baseman Wilin Rosario back at Triple-A Albuquerque, Parker figures to see a decent amount of at-bats in the immediate future. That's shown so far -- Parker has made three starts since being recalled on Saturday.
"Honestly, it was just trying to hit something hard right back up the middle," Parker said. "I put a good swing on it and got it on the barrel. I watched the film, and it looked like [the pitch] was kind of going out of the zone. But I just tried to get the barrel to the ball." More >
"There's been so many things that have gone wrong with our season to date. But one thing I tell my players. There's nothing we can do about that now. In essence, it gives us an opportunity to do something special. Everybody is counting us out and we can do something special. We'll see what happens." -- McClendon, after his Mariners put together their first three-game win streak since May 25-27
"There's a fine line. You try to impart some things on how they should go about their business, then you let them be who they are. They didn't get to the big leagues for no reason. Now you put your skills out against the best people in the world and find out where you stand." -- Rockies catcher Nick Hundley, who is catching not only Gray but recent high picks Eddie Butler (supplemental first round, 2012) and Chad Bettis (second round, 2010)
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mariners' pitchers were on an MLB record 0-for-52 skid in Interleague Play before Vidal Nuno's fourth-inning RBI single off Gray. It was the first hit by a Mariners pitcher since Hector Noesi had two hits on June 24, 2012.
Rockies right-handed-hitting catcher Nick Hundley's fourth-inning home run off Nuno was his ninth of the season, but his first off a lefty.
REPLAY REVIEW Brad Miller opened the eighth inning with a double off Rafael Betancourt, but the Rockies challenged that Miller came off the bag while sliding into second. Video evidence, however, confirmed the ruling, and the safe call was upheld.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners:Taijuan Walker (8-7, 4.73) gets the start in Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. PT series finale at Coors Field. The 22-year-old right-hander is coming off the best start of his career, a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 6-1 victory over the Twins.
Rockies: Chris Rusin will take the ball in Wednesday's afternoon finale at 1:10 p.m. MT. In three Interleague starts this season, Rusin is 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings. He gave up five runs (two earned) in his last Interleague outing versus Texas on July 20.