The Mariners used the long ball to open up a floodgate of runs while rolling to a third straight victory on Thursday night at Safeco Field.
Yes, you know a home run: when a pitched ball is hit a great distance, traveling over the wall, allowing the batter on base and any runners to jog home. Also known as round-tripper, bomb, jack, jackshot, dinger, tater, gopher ball and four-bagger.
Call them whatever you want, but the Mariners got three of them off of White Sox starter Scott Carroll and another one against Chicago’s hapless bullpen en route a 13-3 rout.
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The 13 runs tied a season high for Seattle (59-54) and the four home runs tied a season high.
“They’re feeling good about what they’re doing,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I like the talk and I like the walk.”
It’s easy to become unfamiliar with the idea of home runs. The Mariners aren’t a big home-run hitting team. They came into Thursday’s game with 89 homers on the season, sixth fewest in the American League.
But on Thursday, they looked like a big-fly bashing team.
Dustin Ackley got the power parade started in the first inning, belting a 3-1 fastball off of Carroll into the right field seats, continuing his run of torrid-hitting since the all-star break. It was Ackley’s eighth homer of the season and fourth in his past seven games.
The second homer came in the fourth inning from one of the unlikeliest candidates. Endy Chavez, age 36 and all of 170 pounds, belted a 1-1 curveball deep into the right-field seats for a two-run blast. While every one of his swings is violent enough to look like he wants to hit a home run, it was just the second of this season. The other came on June 27.
“What can I say? That doesn’t happen very often,” Chavez said, chuckling. “But when you hit the ball good, anything can happen.”
The third came from a guy that many fans secretly wish would hit more of them. With Ackley on first base and one out, Robinson Cano belted his ninth bomb of the season, launching a towering fly ball into the right-field seats.
Of Cano’s nine homers this season, all have come with runners on base. He has five two-run homers and four three-run homers.
It was just the sixth time the Mariners have hit three homers in a game this season. But they are 24-5 in games when they hit two or more.
Seattle starter Roenis Elias used the run support to his advantage to improve to 9-9 this season. But after the game, the Mariners optioned Elias to Class AAA Tacoma.
“He’s done a nice job, but we still have to watch his innings,” McClendon said. “We can skip a turn here and back off a little bit. These are pressure innings for a young kid coming out of AA.”
Elias leads all rookies in the American League in starts (23) and innings pitched (1342/3). He threw a total of 130 last year with Class AA Jackson and 15 more in winter ball.
“I understand the move,” Elias said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “The team is doing what’s best for me. I have a lot of innings so far, and they’re trying to keep me healthy.”
Things got a little heated in the eighth inning. After Jose Abreu was hit for the second time in the game by a pitch, White Sox pitcher Maikal Cleto, a one-time Seattle prospect, hit Kendrys Morales with the first pitch of the inning in retaliation. It was an obvious purpose pitch. Home-plate umpire Toby Basner warned both benches. But McClendon was ejected for arguing with Basner about Cleto not being ejected immediately.
“I just asked a simple question if he thought he threw at him, you should throw him out of the game,” McClendon said. “I thought it was intentional.”
Said White Sox manager Robin Ventura: “If (Cleto) can spot that good, we wouldn’t have been in the trouble we were in.”
Kyle Seager gave McClendon the last laugh, ripping his 17th homer of the season into the right-field seats to make it 13-3.