Michael Saunders is having something of a break-out season, batting .271 with seven home runs, 22 RBI and a team-best 10 stolen bases.
And it was his baserunning that helped beat San Francisco and end Seattle’s six-game losing streak.
No, he didn’t steal a base. When it mattered most, Saunders merely disrupted the Giants’ defense on Saturday. Twice.
“You never know what you can do to help win a game,” he said Sunday.
On first base in what became Seattle’s game-winning rally, Saunders was running to second on Dustin Ackley’s ground ball to shortstop, and Brandon Crawford tried to make a tag-and-throw double play.
Saunders avoided the tag, and when Crawford’s throw to first was late the Mariners had the bases loaded.
On the next play, a grounder to third baseman Joaquin Arias, Saunders’ charge to third took him directly into the path of what should have been Arias’ throw.
“If he’d thrown that ball he would have hit me in the face,” Saunders said. “He hesitated and I got down.”
Again, no play was made and the Mariners got a run.
“I remember early in my career going into second base against shortstop Chris Woodward in the minors, and as I went into my slide, I felt the ball go past my face,” Saunders said. “You talk about a game of inches – that ball couldn’t have missed me by more than an inch.”
A year later, the two were roommates.
“I asked him if he remembered the play and he said, ‘Yeah! I ran into our dugout and said, “I just about killed that big guy,” ’ ” Saunders said, laughing.
VERY LENGTHY HOMER
The Mainers let ESPN’s Home Run Tracker loose on that Jesus Montero second-deck shot hit Saturday, and it returned with an estimated distance of 445 feet.
That’s the second longest ever hit to left field at Safeco Field, trailing only a 448-foot shot hit by Richie Sexson.
Overall, it ranked as the 10th longest home run hit in Safeco Field history.
Statistical oddity? Casper Wells has 17 career home runs, his latest hit Saturday vs. four-time All-Star Tim Lincecum. Turns out 10 of his home runs have come against All-Star pitchers. … The Mariners rank third in the majors in scoring first, and their record when doing so is 24-16. In games when the opposition scores first, they’re 4-23. … Former Mariners catcher Bob Stinson threw out the first pitch Sunday. Longtime beat writer Bob Finnigan’s favorite Stinson memory: Stinson once swung at a pitch that hit him in the stomach. … Seattle’s crowd of 40,603 on Sunday was the largest at Safeco Field since opening day. … A Brandon League pitch in the dirt hit plate umpire Andy Fletcher and fractured his right wrist, forcing Fletcher out of the game. Crew chief Joe West left second base, donned the gear and finished the game behind the plate.
Seattle plays at Arizona today, a 6:40 p.m. game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Hector Noesi (2-7, 5.54 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (7-3, 2.39).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue