Seattle roughs up former teammate Tom Wilhelmsen for five runs in eighth inning and gets four homers on night.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Say this about the Mariners’ first win of the 2016 season, which was also the first of Scott Servais’ fledgling managerial career:There was a little bit of everything in it.
Don’t let the 10-2 margin of victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night fool you.
“Why wouldn’t it happen that way?” Servais quipped of his first win.
Mariners @ Texas, 11:05 a.m., ROOT Sports
Perhaps the one thing most evident from Tuesday night was this version of the Mariners, with all of the changes to personnel on the field and in the dugout, is wired a little differently than past years.
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And that may be a good thing.
For all that they did to win the game, the sight of the Mariners players and coaches coming quickly out of the visiting dugout as tempers flared in the eighth inning was certainly something to be remembered.
It happened rarely in past years. And it certainly never happened in the second game of the season.
How did it escalate to that point?
Up 4-2, Seattle turned the game from real to a rout in the eighth inning. Facing their former teammate Tom Wilhelmsen, who was making his Rangers debut, Seattle scored six runs in the frame, powered by three home runs.
Robinson Cano hit the first pitch he saw from Wilhelmsen into the upper deck to start the inning.
“I know he’s a guy that has good stuff,” Cano said of first-pitch swinging. “Leading off the inning, I was like if he throws something over the plate, I’m going to be ready.”
It was Cano’s second homer in as many days. Last season, he didn’t get his second homer until May 30.
“It feels good, man,” he said. “I’ve taken advantage of two pitches right down the middle. Last year, I took a lot of first-pitch strikes right down the middle. This year, I’ve said I’m going to be ready from the first pitch.”
Back-to-back doubles from Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz added another run to make it 6-2. But it was Seth Smith’s missile into the right-field stands — a two-run shot — that put the Mariners up 8-2 and started the issues.
The next batter — Iannetta — took a Wilhelmsen fastball in the thigh, which the Mariners felt was on purpose after their previous power display.
Plate umpire Marvin Hudson ejected Wilhelmsen immediately. Iannetta took no solace in the action and shared his anger with Wilhelmsen as he walked to first base.
“It’s baseball,” Iannetta said. “It’s part of the game.”
Iannetta had to be mildly restrained as players from each dugout began to spill onto the field.
“Wasn’t the way I wanted to start here,” Wilhelmsen said. “It looks like they had a pretty good idea of what I had, but on the other hand my job is to back them off and not let them get too comfortable like they were feeling. It’s ugly and I’m embarrassed.”
But the situation got really interesting when words were exchanged between Servais and Texas manager Jeff Banister, who was protesting Wilhelmsen’s ejection. There was finger pointing and jawing between the two managers and a few coaches as players started to edge closer to home plate as the possibility of a confrontation grew. It eventually calmed down.
“It’s baseball,” Servais said repeating the familiar refrain. “I want to leave it at that. We are going to play Texas a lot this year. We certainly know they won the division last year and we know we have to bring our game every night. I was really happy with the way our guys played tonight.”
Said Banister: “Emotions got high. That’s about all I can say. I saw our guys converging. I came out to keep our guys in check.”
The outburst of emotion from Servais didn’t go unnoticed by his players.
“Every one of us is going to pull for each other, every one of us is going to stand up for each other, that’s just the way this team is,” Iannetta said. “It’s part of building chemistry that he started this spring and we’ll build on it from here.”
The Mariners weren’t done scoring after the brief interlude of anger and exchanged expletives.
Luis Sardinas greeted Wilhelmsen’s replacement — Andrew Faulkner — by ambushing a first-pitch fastball and launching it into the left-field seats. The two-run homer was the first long ball of Sardinas’ career and made it 10-2.
“We busted out, obviously,” Servais said. “Huge home runs. Awesome to see our guys respond that way.”
The Mariners grabbed an early 2-0 lead against Rangers’ starter Martin Perez on a second-inning RBI single from Iannetta and Cruz’s first homer of the season — a solo blast — in the fourth inning. But starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma gave the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth due in large part to shaky command and an inconsistent strike zone. It was eerily similar to Seattle’s struggles the day before.
But unlike the day before, Seattle rallied for two runs in the seventh inning to take a 4-2 lead.
They did so against Tony Barnette, a 32-year-old rookie from Auburn and Thomas Jefferson High School, who was making his big-league debut. That rally included the far-from-speedy Smith scoring from first base on Leonys Martin’s double into the corner and a Norichika Aoki RBI single to right-center.
Nick Vincent picked up the win in relief, pitching a scoreless sixth inning. Joel Peralta worked a scoreless seventh, while Tony Zych pitched the final two innings to close it out.