Omar Narvaez stood and watched.
Can you blame him? The first-year Mariners catcher’s arms were extended, hips flipped open, bat hanging triumphantly behind his head. For a second or two, the 27-year-old Venezuelan was a 5-foot-11, 220-pound statue, gazing up into the seats as a blistered baseball bolted out of the ballpark. He watched, and so did everybody else, admiring a Mariners offense that has consistently, mercilessly clobbered the defending champs.
“I was thinking about putting a good swing on it,” Narvaez said, “and I got the pitch I was looking for and I finally got the barrel.”
The ball met the barrel, then the bleachers. Narvaez’s three-run homer was the most emphatic moment — and the loudest crack of the bat — in a seven-run third inning for the Mariners on Sunday. Seattle (5-1) ultimately posted 12 hits and two homers at T-Mobile Park, topping the Boston Red Sox 10-8 to take three out of four games in the series.
“Our guys were ready to hit, right from the beginning of the ballgame,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “That’s really what stood out for me.”
Besides Narvaez, four other Mariners posted multiple hits in the victory. Ryon Healy finished 2 for 4 with a double, his eighth extra-base hit in six games this season. Dee Gordon piled up three RBI via a single and a sacrifice fly. Mitch Haniger finished 2 for 5 with a bouncing double down the third base line that scored two, and Jay Bruce belted his second dinger of the season. For the slow-starting 1-3 Red Sox, this was death by a hundred hits.
In that explosive seven-run third inning, the Mariners brought 10 batters to the plate. They piled up four hits, three walks and a sacrifice fly … but it all started with an error. Haniger led off the inning by sailing a fly ball into left field and advancing to second base when Boston’s J.D. Martinez lost it in the sun. Red Sox starter Rick Porcello failed to escape the frame, lasting 2 2/3 innings and allowing six hits and nine runs (just four earned) with four walks.
“You don’t even know how many you’re scoring (in the seven-run inning),” Gordon said. “You’re just getting up to hit, to be honest. I’m pretty sure everybody else in here didn’t look up at the scoreboard to see how many we scored that inning. You’re just trying to get up there to hit and do your job.”
That offensive output helped secure a victory for 34-year-old lefty Wade LeBlanc, who went 5 1/3 innings in his first start of the season and surrendered seven hits, six runs (four earned), three walks and a Martinez three-run homer. Nick Rumbelow served up an immediate solo homer to reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts after replacing LeBlanc in the sixth inning.
The Seattle bullpen momentarily stiffened as Matt Festa and Roenis Elias combined for a pair of scoreless frames. But Cory Gearrin walked three while securing a single out before being pulled with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Chasen Bradford promptly walked home a run, but he bounced back by striking out Christian Vazquez and forcing a Jackie Bradley Jr. ground out to end another uncomfortable ninth.
“I couldn’t breathe there for a minute, but it was awesome,” said Bradford, who earned his first career save.
Mariners fans can breathe easier now. On this day — and five others in March — their offense was enough. In six games this season, Servais’ squad has averaged 8.2 runs. That included 34 runs in the four-game series with the Red Sox. If you hit enough, it seems, inconsistent pitching can be overcome. Same with Seattle’s defense, which unfortunately leads the major leagues with nine errors (and counting).
At the end of that highlight-heavy third inning, Mariners center fielder Mallex Smith scored from first base on the aforementioned Haniger double. In fact, the speedy Smith didn’t even stop at home, sprinting helmet-less through the plate and into the dugout, happily high-fiving teammates along the way.
In that moment, Smith mirrored the Mariners’ offense in March. Just when you think they’re going to stop, these Mariners keep right on going.
“Really an unbelievable series by our offense,” Servais said. “Our guys really swung the bats well. More than anything else, we really controlled the strike zone. We didn’t chase a lot. We got big hits. We got homers. It was really fun to watch.”
Especially for the catcher.