Kyle Seager and Dae-Ho Lee pound homers as Seattle improves to 29-21
It won’t ease the frustration or amend the defeats from the past three days, but with a crowd of 29,764 enjoying a sunny holiday afternoon game, the Mariners offered a true reminder of their talents with a 9-3 trouncing of the Padres.
The Mariners got a much-needed quality start Monday from Nathan Karns and took the lead for good in the sixth inning to snap a three-game losing streak. Seattle (29-21) wraps up the two-game series with San Diego on Tuesday and this eight-game homestand with a chance to at least salvage a 4-4 split.
“Nobody likes to lose, obviously, but we have a good team,” said Kyle Seager, who provided the go-ahead runs with a two-run homer in the sixth. “It’s a long season. You are going to have games that you should have won and you didn’t. I think being able bounce back as quick as possible is what separates teams.”
Early on it looked as if the Mariners might let another game at home slip away and waste one of Karns’ best outings this season. Already down 1-0, Seattle’s Seth Smith couldn’t make a tough running basket catch on Brett Wallace’s two-out double to left in the top of the sixth that scored a run.
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“We haven’t had much success lately,” Karns said. “But our offense has been really producing for me. I was just trying to keep the game close and eventually we’ll get the big knocks.”
Karns was rewarded for that faith.
For five innings, the Mariners mustered little against San Diego starter Andrew Cashner. They had just four base runners and two hits, but they broke through with one out in the bottom of the sixth.
The rally started in the oddest of fashions. Norichika Aoki’s swing clipped the glove of catcher Derek Norris and he was awarded first base on the catcher’s interference. Smith atoned for the dropped fly ball in the top of the inning with a double to left-center that scored Aoki from first.
“It got something going for us,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said of the catcher’s interference. “And then Seth Smith had some really big at-bats for us today.”
Nelson Cruz, who had been unproductive with runners in scoring position the past few games, bounced a single up the middle to score Smith and tie the score at 2-2.
“It’s a great sign,” Servais said. “There’s so many RBIs on that ground ball to the center fielder. It’s crazy how that works out. Staying in the middle of the field is something that Edgar (Martinez) preaches all the time because that’s the kind of hitter he was.”
Seager then gave the Mariners the lead, sitting on a first-pitch changeup and driving it just over the wall and out of the reach of right fielder Matt Kamp for a two-run homer to make it 4-2. It was Seager’s ninth homer of the season.
“I hit it good and I felt pretty confident about it,” Seager said. “But it was a little closer than I was hoping.”
Karns came out for the seventh inning and got two quick outs before Jon Jay doubled to right. With Karns at 97 pitches, Servais went to his bullpen. Steve Johnson got the call to face the dangerous Wil Myers. Johnson was able to strike out Myers to end the inning.
“The adrenaline, you have to calm it down,” Johnson said. “Even in the minors, I haven’t been in too many of those situations. But you just have to make a pitch and get that one out.”
Karns finished with 62/3 innings pitched, giving up two runs on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts to improve to 5-1 on the season.
“He really stepped up and he gave us something we desperately needed,” Servais said. “Nate kept us close enough and right in the game. It was probably one of the best games he’s pitched for us. He was aggressive and went after and finished his hitters.”
Seattle broke it open in the eighth against former teammate Brandon Maurer. A one-out walk to Robinson Cano, a double from Cruz and an intentional walk to Seager loaded the bases for Adam Lind. After falling behind 0-2, Lind took three very close pitches to push the count full. On the 3-2 pitch, Lind reached down and punched a slider at his shoelaces up the middle for a two-run single to make it 6-2.
The game quickly became 9-2 when Maurer left a 1-0, 97 mph fastball over the middle of the plate to Dae-Ho Lee. The big first baseman has shown the propensity to jump on fastballs and he clubbed it into the ’Pen for a three-run homer, his seventh of the season.
“Looking at his video he throws a lot of fastballs and sliders — I was ready for the fastball,” Lee said through interpreter D.J. Park.
Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless eighth and Joel Peralta gave up a run in the ninth.