And though Felix Hernandez was quick to praise his battery mate’s game-calling ability after the 2-1 victory over Toronto, Jesus Sucre also made plenty of noise with his bat.
Mariners catcher Jesus Sucre does not strike fear in the hearts of many opposing pitchers.
He’s something of a specialist, filling the very specific niche of having natural chemistry with Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
Even with Hernandez on the hill for the big series finale Wednesday against the Blue Jays, Sucre didn’t know for sure he’d be in the lineup until he arrived at Safeco Field.
“We’ve got Mike (Zunino) and Chris (Iannetta) in here, so I know I’m not going to play too much,” Sucre said matter-of-factly afterward.
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And though Hernandez was quick to praise his batterymate’s game-calling ability after the 2-1 extra-inning victory over Toronto, Sucre also made plenty of noise with his bat.
The stocky Venezuelan went 3 for 3 Wednesday, with his third-inning double sparking Seattle’s only scoring rally before extra innings.
With the obvious caveat of a small sample size, Sucre now is hitting .474 — 9 for 19 — in six appearances this season. In contrast, he needed more than 80 at-bats to reach the eight-hit mark last year.
“He doesn’t take himself too seriously,” M’s manager Scott Servais said. “He just goes up there and tries to make contact. He’s not trying to hit homers. He’s not trying to be a hero. He took the first two pitches in one at-bat, and somebody yelled from our dugout, ‘Take another.’ And he’s laughing.”
That bit of lighthearted joviality had been missing from the home clubhouse in recent days, with Seattle dropping game after game to fellow playoff hopefuls during this homestand.
The Mariners were badly in need of the shift in tone provided by both Sucre and Hernandez.
“It’s kind of our DNA to have fun and get on each other,” Servais said before the game. “I think you still see that. They know they’re not performing to their standard.
“And then they always look internally: ‘What do I need to do better?’ They have a tendency to withdraw and pull in on yourself, which leads you to think that they’re not loose, that they’re not screwing around.
“They’re focused. They’re trying hard. If it was up to me, I probably would like to see a little bit more screwing around and joking.”
Heart of lineup goes missing
The heart of the Mariners’ lineup went missing throughout this six-game homestand, which Seattle ended with a 2-4 record and no better off in the American League wild-card race than when it began.
“The quality of our at-bats this homestand were not good,” Servais said. “We did not have a good offensive homestand. We’ve got to score more runs than we’re scoring, or our season will be over here in about 10 games.”
Robinson Cano — who, it should be noted, drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly — Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager went a combined 0 for 12 Wednesday afternoon. In those six home games, that trio had a combined average of .140 (9 for 64).
“The guys in the middle have been in the league awhile,” Servais said. “They’re pretty good at making adjustments. Hopefully, we’re going to regroup here. We’ve faced some good pitching and they’ve attacked our weaknesses. We need to adjust back. If you want to be a championship club, that’s what happens in the playoff-type of games.”