Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t listen to any talk of Safeco Field being a hitter’s wasteland. Before the game Tuesday against the Red Sox, the Mariners manager shrugged off the notion.
“I know they’ve brought the fences in some, and over the last couple years, it’s played pretty fair,” he said.
On a warm, short-sleeve summer night, the Mariners made Safeco Field look like a hitter’s paradise, driving baseballs all over the park in a 8-2 victory over Boston. With the win, the Mariners now are a season-high six games over .500 at 42-36. The last time a Mariners team was six games over .500 was in 2009.
After scoring 12 runs the day before, Seattle hitters bashed a pair of deep home runs and banged out three more extra-base hits and 10 total hits, looking nothing like the team that had struggled to score runs at home for much of the season.
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“Our guys are starting to pick it up a little bit,” McClendon said. “I’ve said all along that we haven’t had a stretch where our guys have gotten really hot. And that’s going to happen. It’s starting to warm up a little bit and they are starting to feel good.”
The Mariners broke the game open in the fifth inning, turning a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 snoozer. With one out and runners on first and second, Kyle Seager continued his one-man pursuit to prove that Safeco can be friendly to hitters. Seager jumped on a low cut fastball from Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, golfing a towering fly ball that stayed just inside the right-field foul pole and ricocheted off the windows of the Hit it Here Cafe in the upper deck.
“I didn’t see it,” Seager said. “The guys told me about it. I’m just going to be happy if they go over the fence.”
It was Seager’s 11th homer of the season and pushed his RBI total to 53 — both team highs. He also had a run-scoring double in the first inning. Seager has driven in two or more runs in five consecutive home games — a club record. He’s on pace to drive in 116 runs this season.
But the more impressive numbers are what he’s done at home in a park where hitters aren’t supposed to be rewarded. He’s dominated, hitting .328 (42 for 128) at home this season with 10 of his homers and 36 of his runs driven in coming at home. His OPS in 37 games at Safeco this season is over 1.000.
“It’s definitely a big park,” Seager said. “And we all know that. But you can’t change it. And you have to stick with your approach. It’s just one of those things where you get feeling good and you go through runs and mine have been at home.”
Two batters later, Mike Zunino, who has displayed power that isn’t affected by any park or climate, crushed a solo homer into the Mariners’ bullpen off Peavy to make it 7-2. It was Zunino’s 10th homer of the season and third in four games. The 10 homers are the most for any catcher in the American League.
“It’s been constant work,” Zunino said. “Heck, I’ve tried just about everything so I’m happy something’s clicked. I’ve been able to get a couple of pitches that I can handle.”
The Mariners tacked on another run in the eighth on a Brad Miller run-scoring single to make it 8-2.
The plethora of run support helped provide plenty of cushion for a bullpen that was called on early.
Starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez delivered another uneven performance, pitching just 41/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts.
Ramirez came into the game with a scoreless streak of 162/3 innings. He pushed it over 19 innings, working three scoreless but shaky innings to start the game. But in the fourth inning and pitching with a 3-0 lead, he gave up a two-out homer to Brock Holt. Ramirez didn’t make it out of the fourth, getting just one out and then giving up a single to Mike Napoli and walking Daniel Nava.
“Just lack of command, five walks in 90-some pitches … it’s pretty tough,” McClendon said.
Lefty Joe Beimel came in to work out of the jam.
From there, McClendon used a parade of four relievers to close out the final 42/3 innings. Beimel (2-1) got the victory.
“It was a busy night and a heck of a job, but that’s not how you want to win ballgames,” McClendon said.
It might have been Ramirez’s last start in a while. While he has pitched better recently, the Mariners have been patiently waiting for prized prospect Taijuan Walker to build up his innings count and arm strength at Class AAA Tacoma. Walker, who was purposely pitching on the same days as Ramirez, pitched a gem Tuesday night, tossing a four-hit, complete-game shutout, striking out seven and walking one. It was the type of outing the Mariners have been waiting to see.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish