There’s this between-innings announcement running these days at Safeco Field that tells us that June is National Smith Month.
On Saturday, finally, it didn’t seemed like a twisted joke.
Austin Jackson’s home run in the seventh inning lifted the Seattle Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays before relievers Mark Lowe and Carson Smith nursed the slim edge through the final six outs.
The victory snapped a seven-game skid and came just as the Mariners appeared ready to squander a shutdown performance by Felix Hernandez, who gave up one run and two hits in seven innings.
Jackson turned on a full-count pitch from Steve Geltz (1-2) and sent a no-doubt drive over the left-field wall.
It was almost as if Jackson had decided enough was enough. He stood stranded on third after a leadoff triple in the ninth inning of Friday’s 1-0 loss, and his leadoff double in the third inning Saturday produced nothing.
The only run against Hernandez (9-2) came on a wild pitch after Kevin Kiermaier’s one-out triple in the sixth inning. The Mariners have seen their rotation yield just five runs in 30 innings over the past four games.
They finally got a payoff.
Mark Lowe pitched around a two-out single in a scoreless eighth before the Mariners turned to Smith, instead of Fernando Rodney, in the ninth inning.
Smith recorded his first career save.
Tampa Bay starter Alex Colome gave up one run and seven hits in six innings — including a great escape in the fourth inning.
The Mariners had a 1-0 lead — yes, it should have been more — when Kiermaier lined a one-out triple past right fielder Nelson Cruz. While Cruz overthrew the relay man, it’s unlikely the Mariners had a play at third.
That was just the Rays’ second hit against Hernandez, who then bounced a wild pitch on a 2-2 count to Joey Butler that scored the tying run. It also snapped Hernandez’s 21-inning scoreless streak against the Rays.
Hernandez opened the game by walking Kiermaier after being ahead 0-2 in the count. Kiermaier then stole second and third — he was initially called out at third, but a replay challenge overturned the call.
The Rays put runners at first and third when David DeJesus drew a one-out walk. Shortstop Willie Bloomquist made a leaping catch on Logan Forsythe’s liner before Hernandez escaped by striking out Steven Souza.
The Mariners threatened in the second when Seth Smith, with one out, walked on four pitches and went to second on Logan Morrison’s single — a single that extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
It came to nothing.
Bloomquist’s grounder to third turned into a force at second before Mike Zunino ended the inning by grounding out to short.
Jackson led off the third inning with a double into the left-field corner but held second on Robinson Cano’s weak grounder to short. Jackson went to third on Cruz’s grounder to short.
After an intentional walk to Kyle Seager, Colome held the tie by retiring Mark Trumbo on a grounder to second.
The Mariners got another leadoff double in the fourth, this one from Smith, who went to third on Morrison’s bloop single to left.
Willie Bloomquist then lined an RBI single up the middle for the Mariners’ first run in 17 innings.
Zunino tried to sacrifice but walked instead, which loaded the bases with no outs — but the Mariners got nothing more. Jackson fouled out, and Cano grounded into a double play.
All of that, and just one run.