The ball was hit so hard, Martin knew it was a homer even in the often hitter-unfriendly Safeco Field. The win snapped Seattle’s four-game home losing streak.
There are walkoff hits. There are no-doubt home runs. Leonys Martin’s magic in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday night was both.
With two outs and Norichika Aoki standing on second having blooped a double into left field moments earlier, Martin looked fooled on pair of a changeups from A’s closer Ryan Madson.
With what was left of the crowd of 17,471 standing and screaming, Madson threw the fourth straight changeup of the at-bat. Martin wasn’t fooled. He unleashed his short, quick and powerful swing, blasting a towering two-run homer into the right-field seats for an improbable 6-5 walkoff win for the Mariners.
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“That’s some kind of come-from-behind win,” manager Scott Servais said. “It speaks a lot to the character of our club. We just didn’t quit.”
Martin had faced Madson once in a regular-season game, striking out, and had faced him a few times in spring training.
“He’s never thrown me a changeup before,” he said. “I didn’t even know the action on the ball. I was a little bit excited. I stepped out of the box to get some control.”
From the dugout, Servais and Robinson Cano were yelling at the excitable Martin to slow down and calm himself.
It worked. Martin gathered his emotions and delivered yet another big hit in his resurgent season.
The ball was hit so hard, Martin believed that it was a homer even in the often hitter-unfriendly environs of Safeco Field. Despite his low homer numbers in the past, he has that kind of strength.
He admired his accomplishment for a moment and then stared into the celebrating home dugout as he headed for first, screaming at his teammates who were spilling onto the field in delight.
“As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it was going to be gone,” he said. “I crushed that ball. I was saying, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ ”
It was Martin’s fourth walkoff hit and second walkoff homer of his career.
The Mariners have had plenty of comebacks this season — 12 come-from-behind wins and two previous walkoff wins — but this one was special, particularly with the grumblings surrounding their play at home.
“It was about as excited as I’ve seen our dugout,” Servais said. “We’ve had a few moments like that this year already, but this was probably bigger. We needed this one. At home, we got the win.”
The win snapped a four-game home losing streak and improved the Mariners to 27-18 on the season.
Down 5-2 in the eighth inning, the Mariners’ middle of the order made it a one-run game. Pinch-hitter Franklin Gutierrez led off the inning with a double to center field off John Axford. Cano made it a one-run game in the next at-bat, hammering a line drive over the wall in deep right-center for his 13th homer of the season.
Seattle starter Nathan Karns gave up three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his five-plus innings. His outing and hopes of a fifth victory ended in the sixth after allowing back-to-back singles to Stephen Vogt and Danny Valencia to start the inning.
Servais went to his bullpen. But the unit couldn’t hold the lead. Nick Vincent gave up a sacrifice fly to center to Khris Davis — the first batter he faced — that knotted the game. From there, he gave up a single Yonder Alonso, a ground-rule RBI double over the wall in center to Marcus Semien to make it 3-2, walked Chris Coghlan to load the bases and struck out Jake Smolinski. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Servais went to lefty Mike Montgomery to turn around the switch-hitting Coco Crisp, who had homered earlier in the game from the left side.
Montgomery fell behind 3-0 and Crisp jumped on a 3-1 fastball, lining a double to left to make it 5-2.
“I just wasn’t in a rhythm,” Montgomery said. “I fell behind 3-0 and had to give him a pitch.”
But Montgomery closed out the sixth and pitched the final three innings in relief to get the win and improve to 2-0. Montgomery allowed just one base runner in those final three innings, while striking out four.
“At that point, I was just, ‘Shut it down and let the offense come back,’ and sure enough we did,” Montgomery said.
The Mariners grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Seth Smith singled to left field and Cano sliced a line drive into the gap in deep left-center that allowed Smith to score all the way from first. It looked like the Mariners were poised to get some more when Adam Lind hit a low laser toward right field with runners on first and second. But Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso robbed Lind of a likely double with a lunging grab for the third out of the inning.
The A’s answered with a run off Karns in the third inning when Crisp hit his fourth homer of the season.
Seattle retook a 2-1 lead in the third on Nelson Cruz’s two-out single to left field that scored Smith.