Mariners hit three home runs and pitcher Wade Miley settles down after a rocky first inning in a 9-4 victory.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — After an abysmal opening homestand of bad baseball when the Mariners went 1-5 and the veterans felt the need to call a players’ only meeting to discuss their level of play, the team came back with the needed road-trip response.
With a 9-4 win over the Angels on Sunday, Seattle finished the 11-day, nine-game trip that started in New York, stopped in Cleveland and then culminated in Orange County with a 6-3 record — winning each of the three-game series and improving to 9-9.
Asked to sum up that span of solid baseball that highlighted the strengths of this team with still a few reminders of the weaknesses, manager Scott Servais said with a wry smile: “Fun!”
Houston @ Seattle, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Winning usually helps the fun quotient for teams.
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“It was fun,” Servais said. “We played really good baseball. This is kind of what we envisioned coming out of camp. We obviously got off to a little slow start on the last homestand. We are anxious to get back and play good there. It’s our last little hurdle.”
Little hurdle? Pessimistic fans might see it as an imposing impediment or a massive mental block to overall success. The numbers in those six games at Safeco were pretty poor. Seattle lost the first five games and needed a Dae-Ho Lee walkoff homer in extra innings to salvage a win in the last game. The Mariners hit just .170 with a .523 on-base plus slugging percentage, with 50 strikeouts and just 11 runs in those six games. Seattle was 36-45 at home last season and has just one season (41-40 in 2014) with a winning record at Safeco Field since 2009.
But this roster built by general manager Jerry Dipoto was supposed to set up for more success at Safeco. That is yet to be determined, but the players believe in it.
“It’s definitely unfortunate that we played like that at home,” said Kyle Seager. “You don’t want to play like that at home. But we just weren’t playing well period, and it wouldn’t have mattered if we were on the road or at home. I think that’s over. We got into a little bit of a rhythm and a groove and I think that’s more of the brand of baseball you’ll see us playing going forward.”
The players knew they were better than what they showed at Safeco. So they tried to hit the reset button.
“We needed to,” Seager said. “You’ve got a veteran group in here. You’ve got a lot of guys that are really professional and doing this for a long time. They kind of all got together and talked about it. It was way too early to panic. We just needed to get back playing like we should.”
The six-game homestand features three games against the Houston Astros, a team that’s 6-12, but made the playoffs last season and was picked by many to win the division. After an off day on Thursday, the Mariners will host the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals over the weekend. The Royals (12-6) appear poised for another postseason run.
“I’m looking forward to getting our fan base there fired up and get them on board,” Servais said. “There will be some good series at home with some obviously tough teams coming in, but that’s what I’m anxious for.”
The biggest positive for Seattle in Sunday’s win, besides the nine runs despite minimal contribution from Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, was Wade Miley picking up his first win of the season. It wasn’t always pretty, but after a shaky first inning, Miley looked like the pitcher the Mariners expected when they acquired him in the offseason.
Seattle gave Miley four runs of support in the first inning, highlighted by Seager’s three-run homer off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker. And Miley nearly gave them all back in the bottom of the inning, allowing three runs, including a missile of a two-run homer to Albert Pujols.
“ I just left a pitch up for Pujols,” he said. “I was trying to go in, but left it out over the plate and he made me pay.”
But he still maintained the lead and the Mariners added to it in the fourth inning, scoring three runs, including a two-run homer by Leonys Martin.
Miley came back with a shutdown 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth as part of a run of 11 straight hitters retired.
“After Martin hit the homer, that was my main focus,” he said. “Get the first out and go from there and try to get back in the dugout.”
Following the first inning, Miley worked the next six innings without allowing a run. It was snapped by a one-out solo homer from Yunel Escobar in the eighth inning that ended Miley’s outing.
“Awesome job by Wade to hang in there and make adjustments,” Servais said. “That’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to see what’s working and what they’re on and what they’re not and he started mixing up his pitches a little better after the second.”
Miley had early trouble knock him out of his last start, but not this game.
“It speaks to the professional that he is,” Servais said. “He doesn’t quit. He’s a gamer. … It hadn’t been going good for him and after that first inning he could have put his head down and felt sorry for himself. But he didn’t. He made an adjustment and kept us right in the game.”
|Can Mariners bring wins back home?|
|The Mariners have won all four series on the road and return home Monday where they’ve lost five of six games to start the season.|
|Mariners at home||1-5||.170||.248||34||11|
|Mariners on the road||8-4||.252||.325||104||64|