PHILADELPHIA -- Among the myriad concerns for the health of the Mariners pitching staff these days, the club got some good news on the medical front Wednesday. Robinson Cano, after leaving Tuesday's game with a strained quadriceps muscle, not only was cleared to play in the series finale against the Phillies, he cleared the fence as well.
Prior to the afternoon game at Citizens Bank Ballpark, Cano joked about saving wear and tear on his sore right leg by simply hitting home runs instead of base hits. Then he went out and cranked a two-run homer in the third inning for his team-leading eighth blast of the season, helping lead the Mariners to an 11-6 victory.
Cano didn't limit himself to long balls, however. The seven-time American League All-Star went 4-for-5 with a walk and three RBIs to hike his batting average to .296 as he continues getting back to normal Cano territory after a slow start.
"He was swinging the bat really good yesterday and I think that's kind of why he wanted to figure out a way to get in there, even though he's not feeling 100 percent," manager Scott Servais said with a chuckle. "He was joking about it all day. 'Do you want me to sit out now?'
"I said, 'No, you're good. Stay right there.' That's Robbie Cano. He's a talented player and when he's right, he's as good at it gets."
Cano said he felt the quad a little on his last at-bat, but vowed that he's good enough to remain in the lineup in the upcoming series in Toronto.
"I'll be there tomorrow," he said. "But I'll try to be smart and not run too hard out of the box and just take it slow."
After batting .212 in the season's first two weeks, the 34-year-old has gone 29-for-83, posting a .349/.411/.663 line with seven homers, 17 runs and 20 RBIs in his last 21 games. And that hot stretch has helped the Mariners ride out a run of misfortune in their pitching staff, with four starters and several key relievers on the disabled list.
Despite the injuries, the Mariners have won six of their last seven to reach .500 for the first time since Opening Day.
"That's really important," Cano said. "We can focus and see if we play on the road at .500, we have a lot of games left on the season. When those guys get back, we can have our whole team."
Cano wasn't even sure he could play Wednesday until testing his leg in the hitting cage, but he reached base in his first five plate appearances, including a single and bases-loaded walk in a five-run seventh that broke things open.
His home run came on a 1-0 fastball from Phillies starter Zach Eflin as he ripped a 375-foot shot with a 105-mph exit velocity into the right-field seats. He's now homered in consecutive games for the first time this season, and his four hits were a season high.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.