HOUSTON — There was nothing odd about the Seattle Mariners’ win Sunday. They weren’t being no-hit. There were no extenuating circumstances for their runs.
It was just a normal, straight-to-the-point beatdown of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
A day after winning despite getting only one hit, the Mariners banged out 13 hits and drew five walks, and Nick Franklin crushed his first grand slam en route to a 12-5 rout of the Astros.
The Mariners extended their winning streak to a season-high six games and earned their second consecutive series sweep. The last time Seattle swept an opponent on the road was May 18-20, 2012, at Colorado.
It was the third time this month that the Mariners (46-52) scored
at least 10 runs. Even with Saturday’s one-hit hiccup, Seattle’s offense is rolling.
The Mariners are hitting, and hitting well. In 16 games in July, they have scored 102 runs — the most in the majors.
That’s 6.4 runs per game. It’s almost enough to forget about the anemia of the past.
“This is about as good a stretch as we’ve had since I’ve been here in 2011,” said Dustin Ackley, who had three hits Sunday. “This is a great feeling. It’s not like we’re doing it here or there. We’ve been doing it every day for the last couple weeks, so that’s definitely an exciting thing.”
Sunday’s game was basically over soon after it started.
There was no threat of being no-hit. The Mariners exploded for seven runs in the second inning off Astros starter Jordan Lyles (4-4).
“It was definitely a great bounce back from yesterday and only having the one hit,” Franklin said.
His one hit in the second inning accounted for plenty of damage. The Mariners led, 3-0, after Ackley and Brad Miller hit RBI singles, and Henry Blanco was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Franklin made it 7-0 with one swing.
With a 1-1 count, he sat on a 92 mph fastball from Lyles and ripped it into the right-field stands to clear the bases.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive and try to get a run in and get a sac fly,” Franklin said. “He just happened to leave it over the plate, and I connected on it.”
It was Franklin’s seventh homer of the season and the Mariners’ fifth grand slam of 2013.
Franklin has shown some power despite his slender 180-pound frame.
“They always say I’m like wiry strong,” he said. “I definitely put the work in in the weight room, though obviously it doesn’t look like it. Other than that, I just try to square the ball up as much as I can. If it goes out, it goes out.”
Franklin’s slam gave Mariners starter Felix Hernandez a 7-0 lead with which to work.
A 7-0 lead for King Felix? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, there was that
June 20 start in Anaheim, Calif., when the Mariners handed Hernandez a
7-0 lead in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels, and the Seattle ace couldn’t hold it. He gave up seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits and took a no-decision in the 10-9 loss.
“I didn’t think about that at all,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge deadpanned.
“Yeah, I’m sure it was in the back of everyone’s mind, but he was a different animal today. He’s one of those guys, it might happen once, but it’s not going to happen again.”
Hernandez had no such recollection.
“No, that never came to my mind,” he said. “Every time you go out there, it’s 1-0.”
Hernandez (11-4) pitched six shutout innings against the Astros, giving up four hits and striking out seven while walking one. He also lowered his American League-leading earned-run average to 2.43.
Of course, it helped that the Astros don’t have Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in their lineup. Besides, the Mariners had pushed the lead to 10-0 in the fifth inning.
“It’s fun to pitch like that,” Hernandez said of the run support.
“Like I said, the last few weeks we’ve been scoring a lot of runs. We’ve just got to continue to do that, and we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Seattle tacked on two more runs on a RBI single by Miller in the seventh and a line-drive RBI double from Michael Saunders in the eighth.
The Mariners’ bullpen couldn’t keep the game a shutout.
Hector Noesi allowed a run in the seventh. After Lucas Luetge tossed a flawless eighth, Bobby LaFromboise couldn’t shut the door, giving up three consecutive hits, a run and a walk before registering an out. He was lifted for Danny Farquhar, who gave up a sacrifice fly for another run to make it 12-3.
The game should have been over when Farquhar struck out Jason Castro swinging. But the ball got by the catcher, Blanco, who fired wildly to first, allowing two runs to score. Farquhar then walked Chris Carter, but he finally ended the ninth-inning circus by getting Carlos Corporan to pop out.
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