After a return to the Seattle Mariners lineup and homers in two consecutive games, Kyle Lewis got a proper weekend off, if not a full holiday one.
As expected, a cautious approach is being employed with Lewis, who Friday knocked out his first home run in exactly a year, a 441-foot blast off Justin Verlander. He followed up with another homer the next night in an eventual series victory against the Houston Astros.
Lewis returned last week after missing most of last season after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee. He underwent surgery June 11. Hopes to return by the end of last season were dashed when he had a setback during a rehab session.
He entered the lineup as the designated hitter Tuesday. After four appearances in five days, he was scratched Sunday, when the Mariners fell 2-1 to the Astros. Monday is a travel day.
Manager Scott Servais indicated there were periodic check-ins with Lewis.
“Playing the long game here,” he said. “I really want to have him available for the remainder of the season. So just pull back a little bit, go from there.
“He’s looked great, swinging the bat well. Think he feels good about where his timing is at. He jumped on a high fastball (Saturday), that’s about as good as you can hit it.”
After Lewis’ latest effort, Servais dispelled the notion of the 26-year-old riding in “on a white horse to save the day.” But the focus is on keeping him healthy and in the lineup.
“You’d like to plug him in there in a key moment, but got to stay true to what we decided we’d do when he came back,” Servais said.
Outside the box
Mariners swinging at the right pitches isn’t necessarily a new development, Servais said Sunday. He pointed to the addition of the strike zone box in TV coverage.
“Now everybody thinks it’s easy. ‘Why would he swing at that pitch? What is he thinking?’” Servais reasoned.
“It looks like a strike, that’s what he’s thinking. That’s what pitchers are taught to do — make it look like a strike and not be a strike.”
Hitting the road
The Mariners hit the road for their next nine games. Next up is a three-game visit with the Baltimore Orioles, who sit last in the AL East, beginning Tuesday. The Orioles fell 12-2 Sunday but split the four-game series with the Boston Red Sox.
Servais, naturally, wants this Astros series to be one his team can build on.
“A sweep of a team like that — a really good team, a veteran club that is very deep — you’ve got to make all the little plays happen throughout the course of three games,” he said. “Today, just a couple things go differently there in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning, and you end up sweeping the club.
“I feel good about us continuing to get better, and it wasn’t headed in that direction here for a while. A lot of good signs from this weekend.”