DETROIT — Lloyd McClendon spent last fall hoping to get a chance to manage in a pennant race at Comerica Park.
He got his wish Friday night, even if it wasn’t exactly the way he had envisioned things.
McClendon had hoped to become the Tigers’ manager when Jim Leyland retired after winning three straight AL Central titles, but general manager Dave Dombrowski picked Brad Ausmus over Leyland’s longtime hitting coach.
McClendon ended up managing the Mariners instead, and made his return to Comerica Park with a 7-2 victory. After the game, though, he didn’t want to make a big deal out of his first game back or the fact that the win moved Seattle a half-game ahead of Detroit in the race for the second AL wild card.
“This was the first win of the series,” he said. “Other than that, no, it was no more significant than another game.”
James Paxton (3-0) was the star for Seattle, pitching six innings and allowing one run on five hits. Robinson Cano homered, and he and Logan Morrison each scored twice as Seattle won its fifth straight and ninth in 11 games.
“That kid has a really nice downward angle on his fastball, and you end up hitting a lot of grounders and choppers off him,” Ausmus said. “We actually hit some balls hard, but it seemed like they all went to the shortstop (Chris Taylor), and he just kept making play after play.”
The Tigers dropped 1 1/2 games behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central, thanks to a 12-17 stretch since the All-Star break.
“Obviously, we’d rather be in first place by 15 games, but we’re not,” Ausmus said. “There’s nothing we can do about what we’ve done up until now. You just go out tomorrow and try to start winning games again.”
Rick Porcello (13-8) struggled badly in his first appearance since pitching the final three innings of Detroit’s 19-inning loss in Toronto on Sunday.
After a five-start stretch in which he had a 1.75 ERA, the 25-year-old righty gave up six runs — five earned — and 10 hits in six innings. He didn’t walk a batter, but struck out only three.