A grand slam by Seth Smith and three straight doubles in the seventh inning sparked a 9-4 victory that gave the Mariners a four-game sweep of the Orioles.
There were a lot of gaudy numbers at which to gaze after the Mariners completed a four-game sweep of the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles with a 9-4 win Sunday.
There were the 31 runs the Mariners scored in the four games against a Baltimore team that entered the series having won seven in a row.
There were the 23 extra-base hits the Mariners got over the weekend — 13 doubles and 10 home runs —- which tied for the second-most in a four-game series in team history.
Mariners @ Houston, 11:10 a.m., ROOT Sports
There was a fourth home run in four games by Seth Smith — this one a grand slam in the third that gave Seattle a fitting 4-0 lead that the Mariners never relinquished.
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And there were three strikeouts in the seventh by rookie sensation Edwin Diaz, which not only extinguished Baltimore’s last offensive uprising but also gave Diaz 10 straight outs via strikeout, tying a team record set in 1997 by Randy Johnson.
To manager Scott Servais, though, all the stats simply helped quantify the kind of intangibles such as preparation, intensity and focus that can sometimes be trickier to see.
After a lackluster 8-1 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday and with the red-hot Orioles coming to town, Servais challenged his team to remember the things that had made the Mariners one of the early surprises of the major-league season before running into a June swoon.
“We didn’t talk at all about wins and losses but about how we were playing,’’ Servais said. “We weren’t playing well. We needed to play better. Sometimes the wins and losses you think are in your control, but things happen in this game, you play so many games. But you can control how you play and prepare and that’s what we wanted to see.
“Credit to our veteran group. They did kind of take the lead on it and put it in play. Just consistent effort, every day.’’
And none too soon. With Texas and Houston having been on unseasonably hot tears, the Mariners limped into this homestand on June 24 with the season nearing a teetering point, Seattle having lost six in a row to cap its last trip.
Adam Lind’s walkoff homer against the Cardinals that night, though, started a 7-2 homestand that has steadied the Mariners, who while 8½ games back of Texas for the lead in the AL West, are again tied with the Astros for second and a game out of the wild card after what was officially the first game of the second half of the season.
“You are going to have times in the season when you lose,’’ said third baseman Kyle Seager, who had one of three straight doubles that put the game away in the seventh. “Hopefully not six in a row. But you are going to have bad series and they are going to be back-to-back and everybody is going to panic on you. But it’s a long season and we know that. And I think that meeting helped with that. We believe in what we have here.’’
Mariners by the numbers
Seth Smith hit his first career grand slam Sunday, homering for the fourth straight game.
Mariners’ record entering a 7-game road trip. Seattle has won four straight.
Edwin Diaz matched Randy Johnson’s franchise record with 10 consecutive outs by strikeout.
Seattle had 31 runs and 47 hits, including 23 for extra bases, in sweeping the AL East leaders.
Certainly, what Servais felt he had come to know about the team before the 2-8 trip that saw the Mariners fall under .500 was reinforced against the Orioles.
“Baltimore’s got a really good club,’’ Servais said. “They came in here very hot. And when we are locked in and everybody is engaged and doing their job, we are pretty good. … If we play good, we can play with anybody.’’
Seager said he noticed a difference in the energy in the dugout this weekend, more guys standing on the top steps “really pulling for everybody a little bit harder.’’
All Smith really needed to see was an ill-advised fastball from Jimenez on an 0-2 count with the bases loaded in the third.
Smith, who said he was just looking to stay alive in the at-bat, instead hit it 404 feet for his first career grand slam.
“That just kind of showed up and I was able to get the barrel to it,’’ said Smith.
Showing they aren’t just hitting homers — even if their 123 is second in the majors — the Mariners used a ground-rule double on a ball that got stuck in the padding down the right-field line and balk to score two more in the fourth.
Then, after Diaz worked his way out of trouble in the top of the seventh — helping preserve the win for starter Hisashi Iwakuma (8-6), three straight doubles scored three more in the seventh to put it away.
The Mariners, now 43-39, still have lots of work today, beginning with a rugged seven-game trip at Houston that concludes against World Series champion Kansas City before the All-Star break.
But as they left, they took with them a revived sense of what the season could be.
“A lot of people, with the ups and downs of our season, had kind of written us off a little bit,’’ Servais said. “But that’s OK. There’s a lot of ball left to play.’’