PITTSBURGH — No rookie has any business hitting that pitch that way that hard.
But the Mariners’ Kyle Lewis says he’s always had natural opposite-field power, and he showed it off once again Wednesday night.
With an inside-out swing, Lewis hit a 91-mph inside sinker 383 feet over PNC Park’s out-of-town scoreboard in right field, his fifth home run in his eighth major-league game.
The ball rocketed off Lewis’ bat at 102.1 mph, and all 10 of his major-league hits have registered off his barrel at at least 100 mph.
“I’m sure looking back on it I’ll be able to reflect on those kinds of things down the road, but right now I’m just in the moment, trying to keep working,” he said.
Lewis had 11 home runs in 122 games for Class AA Arkansas this season.
The 24-year-old former first-round pick had a miserable night Tuesday, going 0 for 5 with four strikeouts.
How would he respond?
In his first at-bat of the Mariners’ 4-1 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday, Lewis hit a hard line drive to center field — caught for an out.
In his second at-bat against Pittsburgh starter Dario Agrazal, Lewis got ahead in the count, 2-0. He swung through a sinker on the next pitch, making the count 2-1. He didn’t miss the next one.
Of his five home runs, three have either gone to center field, right-center or right (all at T-Mobile Park). The other two went over the wall in left-center.
“That’s who he is,” manager Scott Servais said Tuesday, when asked about Lewis’ opposite-field approach. “He does have that kind of power. He’s kind of built that way. He stays inside the ball. He doesn’t get around and hook a lot of balls, which is good.
“Those guys usually end up driving in a lot of runs in their career. We had another guy around here by the name of Edgar Martinez who was pretty good at doing that. You become really valuable in the middle of the lineup when you can hit the ball all over the field — you are going to drive in a lot of runs, and I think Kyle’s going to do that.”
Tom Murphy followed Lewis with a 420-foot homer to straightaway center field Wednesday off Agrazal, giving the Mariners a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning. It was Murphy’s 18th of the season.
Dylan Moore drove in the Mariners’ first two runs with a line-drive double to left field, scoring Kyle Seager and Murphy.
Dunn settles in (sort of)
Rookie right-hander Justin Dunn was better in his second “open” for the Mariners on Wednesday night.
His nerves, it seemed, haven’t completely settled down just yet. But “baby steps,” as Servais said.
“It was a little bit better tonight. Not quite where he wants to be yet, but he took a step in the right direction,” Servais said.
The 23-year-old right-hander managed to throw two scoreless innings against the Pirates, but he did walk three more batters in those two innings. Servais said he was pleased that Dunn’s walks Wednesday, for the most part, came during competitive at-bats.
“I’m still not happy with them — three walks is still too many for me,” Dunn said. “But I’m happy to be around the zone and I can build on that.
In his first two major-league appearances, Dunn has recorded as many outs (eight) as walks issued.
Control was not a concern for Dunn during his breakthrough season at Class AA Arkansas, where he had a 158-to-39 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 131.2 innings pitched.
He threw 36 pitches Wednesday night, 19 for strikes, with only one hit allowed.
He also recorded his first major-league strikeout — against Agrazal, the Pirates’ starting pitcher, for Dunn’s final out of the night.
Tommy Milone followed as Seattle’s “bulk” pitcher. He allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings to earn the victory.
In the bottom of the ninth, Braden Bishop made a terrific running catch as he crashed into the wall in deep center field, likely saving a couple runs. Matt Magill earned his fifth save.