The first baseman had five RBI as the Mariners ended a two-game skid by beating Colorado 6-4 to end a homestand.
Ryon Healy knows it isn’t the right way for a baseball player to think.
His good games — multiple hits, a big homer — are too easily forgotten and are replaced by hitless games or multi-strikeout games. Those linger in his mind and eat at his insides to the point of being detrimental.
He’s an emotional player that can allow the waves to lift him and bury him. It’s something he’s trying to change, searching for a balance to stay somewhere between the highs and lows.
The Mariners are hoping Sunday’s game is another chance for him to find that balance.
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The big first baseman jump-started Seattle’s flatlining offense, driving in five runs, including a go-ahead three-run homer, and carrying the Mariners to a 6-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field.
The win allowed Seattle (57-34) to avoid being swept by the surging Rockies, who had won five in a row. The Mariners closed out the nine-game homestand with a 6-3 record. They’ll have Monday off before facing the Angels in Anaheim, Calif., and then traveling to Denver for a three-game series at Coors Field before the All-Star break.
“We are back on the right side of things again,” manager Scott Servais said. “Really good homestand. Getting off the plane from that East Coast trip and seeing where we are at and what’s happening, we were a little tired as a ballclub and our guys stepped up and had a nice homestand.”
About three hours before Healy stepped to the plate for the first time Sunday, Servais discussed his emotional first baseman and his fiery desire to contribute and how much it burns him when he doesn’t.
“He has to get over that hump, mentally, 0 for 4s happen, 0 for 8s happen, 1 for 15s happen,” Servais said. “It’s part of the game.”
And after the game:
“You ride the ups and the downs, but Ryon Healy is a good player,” Servais said. “There are going to be some stretches where it doesn’t look so pretty. He’s maturing. Ryon is an emotional guy. That’s why we all love him. He’s always into the game. But riding those highs and lows over the course of a season, it takes some energy away from you. We are trying to keep him on an even keel.”
That includes teammates.
“It comes from different voices all the time,” Healy said. “Sometimes the same old voices get old. My locker neighbor Ben Gamel and I were talking about it. He and I both had a tough game, and we were just reflecting on it and our at-bats and understanding that it happens. You realize you can have four good at-bats and still go 0 for 4, and it can be frustrating.”
Healy knows letting that frustration remain is counterproductive. But he understands he’ll be in the lineup the next day to try and rectify the situation. Servais has stressed that to him often.
“The confidence that they’ve shown in me definitely helps me build myself back up a little bit when I’m beat up or a little down about the way I’m playing,” he said. “I think they understand probably better than I do the way that this game has ebbs and flows. Obviously, I’m learning a ton as it goes. The coaching staff does a great job of staying positive with me.”
After his four-hit night in the second game of the homestand, Healy had gone 3 for 23 with a homer and eight strikeouts coming into Sunday, including going hitless in his last 13 at-bats. You could see the frustration following those failed chances, a flung bat, a tossed helmet or a headshake.
But he ended that irritation quickly in the first inning. With the bases loaded and the Mariners already having scored a run on Kyle Seager’s sacrifice fly to right, Healy smoked a double to left-center off Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela for a 3-1 lead.
“That felt great,” he said. “It felt like a monkey was lifted off my back. I was able to help the team right there with a big at-bat. It’s awesome to come through.”
Seattle starter Wade LeBlanc couldn’t hold that lead, giving up a solo homer to Carlos Gonzalez in the fifth inning and a two-run blast to Trevor Story in the sixth.
But Healy gave the Mariners the lead for good.
Facing Senzatela for the third time, he smashed a three-run homer into the upper deck in the bottom of the inning. It was his 18th homer of the season.
“I wouldn’t say I was looking for (a slider),” he said. “I kind of let myself get a little big on the 2-0 pitch and chased. I think I got back to my approach and simplified and saw it early and was able to put a good swing on it.”
The Mariners bullpen closed out the two-run lead. James Pazos got three ground-ball outs in the seventh inning. Alex Colome delivered one of his best outings in a Mariners uniform, striking out the side in the eighth. That’s not a bad showing considering pregame neck issues almost kept him out of the game.
For the 35th time this season, Edwin Diaz closed the game with a save. Diaz struck out the side in the ninth. It was the second consecutive outing in which he’s struck out the side for a save. He’s three from the record of 38 saves before the All-Star break set by Francisco Rodriguez in 2008.
LeBlanc got the win and improved to 5-0, working six innings and allowing four runs on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts.