HOUSTON — The Mariners’ streak has come to an end.
For 23 straight games the Mariners have hit a home run. Until Saturday, when the power finally went out during Seattle’s 4-2 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Field.
The 23-game streak was the longest in franchise history and sixth-longest in major league baseball history.
“It’s something that’s never been done before with the Mariners,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “There have been so many great teams and players here I think it says a lot about our current roster. It’s a level of consistency, which is rare, to be driving the ball and hitting the ball out of the ballpark.”
The Mariner’s success wasn’t strictly about swinging for the fences.
“You have to put together good at-bats, a volume of good at-bats together to get your hits. It’s not just hitting the ball hard and making it go a long way. There’s a lot more that goes into it than that. I think it’s one hell of an accomplishment.”
The Mariners blasted 41 home runs during the streak. They have hit the second most homers in the major leagues this season with 119. Baltimore leads with 133 going into Saturday.
Brad Miller accounted for two of those Mariners’ homers – both coming in Friday night’s win. They were the first two homers of his major league career. Somehow, he managed to get both home run balls back.
“I don’t know how they did it. I guess they pried it from some little kids or something,” he joked.
Well, it wasn’t quite that traumatic.
The first homer was hit into the upper deck. The fan who caught the ball was ushered down to the Mariners’ clubhouse, where he met with Seattle clubhouse attendant Billy Sepich, who traded him an autographed ball from Miller, a Mariners game cap and T-shirt for the home run ball.
“I’ll make that trade any day,” Miller said.
The other home run ball was tossed back onto the field by a disgusted fan.
Miller has already chosen their destinations. One was handed to his father, who has traveled on every road trip since Miller has been called up.
“I don’t think he even has a job anymore,” Miller said.
And the other?
“I’m going to give one to my grandma back home,” he said. “That will be cool because she was watching.”
Miller’s exploits were featured prominently on ESPN and the MLB Network. Although he didn’t spend much time looking for them.
“I didn’t watch,” he said. “I watched the video of the second one, though. Honestly, I didn’t know off the bat how close (Justin) Maxwell was. I’m glad that thing just got over his head, for sure.”
It prompted plenty of calls and texts from friends and family.
“I got a good amount,” he said. “Just people saying congrats and that we have a lot of Mariners fans in Orlando (Fla.). I was pretty pumped about that. It’s just cool hearing from old coaches, and old teammates, and buddies back home who are just excited as I was. That’s really cool.”
ZUNINO SHOWING PATIENCE
Mike Zunino isn’t known for being a patient, selective hitter. The young catcher likes to hit the ball hard. So for him to take three walks in Friday’s win was a bit of a surprise. Even more so if you consider that Zunino had walked only four times in 24 games since being called up.
“I was joking around with some guys. I couldn’t tell you when my last (walk) was,” he said. “I was joking that I should have had four. I chased a slider. I don’t remember ever having four, so that would have been something else.”
Zunino actually had three walks in a game this season while playing for the Tacoma Rainiers. He walked three times on April 18 against Fresno. In 47 games with the Rainiers, Zunino walked just 14 times.
He knows he needs to be more selective at the plate.
“You’ve just got to be patient and pick the pitches you want to look for and stick with that,” he said. “Obviously it’s easy to get too aggressive, but you just have to stick to your approach and wait for that one pitch.”
Zunino knows pitchers are using off-speed stuff low and away once they get two strikes on him. He’s trying to make the adjustment.
“For the past week or so, that’s what I’ve seen mostly,” Zunino said. “So I’ve got to still hunt the fastball, but hopefully see breaking balls up in the zone and be able to hit them to right field.”
Prior to starting a seven-game homestand Monday, the Mariners wrap up a three-game trip Sunday with right-hander Felix Hernandez (10-4, 2.53 ERA) getting the start. Houston will go with right-hander Jordan Lyles (4-3, 4.02 ERA). First pitch is set for 11:10 a.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, and 710-AM.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish