Luis Torrens didn’t argue with the Mariners’ decision to demote him to Triple-A Tacoma last month.
“Even at that moment,” Torrens said Friday, “I was thinking it was the best option (for) me too.”
The Mariners, at this moment anyway, are playing their best with Torrens back in the lineup.
Torrens, a 25-year-old catcher from Venezuela, hit two two-run home runs on Friday evening to power the Mariners to a 9-3 road victory over the American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
They were Torrens’ fourth and fifth home runs in seven games since being recalled by the Mariners on June 14.
“Everything is about believing in myself, right?” Torrens said. “I have to believe in myself first, and in my mind I’m the best and I will show everybody who I am as a player and as a person too. That’s my mind — try to be the best on the field.”
Back on the road after a successful 10-game homestand, the Mariners got right back in the win column by riding another strong start from Yusei Kikuchi, who outdueled the White Sox’s Carlos Rodon in a matchup of two of the AL’s best left-handers.
Jake Fraley also homered for the Mariners (40-37), who have won six of seven and nine of their last 11 games.
Torrens was demoted on May 20 after hitting .178 with .519 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his first 90 major-league at-bats. He hit six homers in 19 games with the Rainiers, posting an .838 OPS in 73 at-bats.
He homered in his first game back with the Mariners on June 15 and, yep, he just keeps hitting them.
Torrens’ two-run blast in the second inning — a no-doubter on a breaking ball Rodon left up and over the middle of the plate — gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead.
Torrens, in the lineup at DH, added another two-run homer in the seventh inning — an opposite-field shot to right field off right-handed reliever Zack Burdi — for the first multiple-homer game of his career. His four RBI are a career high.
“He’s a big part of our future going forward,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Torrens. “And we talked about that (when he was sent down in May). But it wasn’t just the offense. I thought his offense was affecting his defense as well, and how he was calling the game and kind of his whole game. He’s a better player than what he was doing before, and sometimes you just need to reset. And I think that’s what happened there.”
Torrens, Servais said, will continue to split time with Tom Murphy at catcher — and, surely, Torrens will get a few more starts at DH, too.
“The way he’s swinging the bat now becomes a real weapon,” Servais said.
Fraley’s two-run homer in the sixth inning extended the Mariners’ lead to 5-1. It was his fifth homer of the season, all of which have come on the road.
J.P. Crawford, after falling behind 1-2, led off the game with a single after a nine-pitch at-bat, indicative of the kind of patient approach Mariners’ hitters had off Rodon, the AL leader in ERA (1.83 coming into Friday).
Rodon managed to complete just five innings on 104 pitches, allowing three runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out eight.
The Mariners had 14 hits, and all nine batters the M’s lineup had at least one hit. The bottom four hitters — Jake Bauers, Torrens, Dylan Moore and Fraley — combined to go 7 for 16 with three walks, seven RBI and five runs.
“You need to have guys up and down that lineup at every position contributing, and that’s what was so exciting for me tonight,” Servais said. “It wasn’t just one or two guys that had a big night. It was everybody … and we put constant pressure on them.”
Kikuchi was strong again, and he continues to look like an emerging ace at the top of the Mariners’ rotation.
The left-hander from Japan allowed only a solo home run to Yasmani Grandal in the second inning, and he worked 5 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 3.34. In Chicago’s humid air, Kikuchi was cramping late in the game, said Servais, who pulled his starter with two on and two outs in the sixth.
In 10 starts since late April, Kikuchi has a 2.44 ERA with 21 walks and 67 strikeouts.
“He continues to roll,” Servais said, “and he’s putting together a heck of a season.”