One swing changed everything and closed the book on an unwanted franchise record for scoring futility.
Kyle Seager hit a grand slam in the third inning Wednesday night that propelled the Seattle Mariners to a 9-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
That’s not all.
Seager’s slam also ended a club-record streak of failing to score four runs that had reached 13 games. It’s been 43 years since an American League club stumbled through such futility.
That was the 1972 Texas Rangers … one season before the AL adopted the designated hitter. That’s right: These Mariners are the only AL club in the DH era to go 13 consecutive games without scoring at least four runs.
So this was long overdue.
“I think we all knew it was coming,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It was like a volcano, so to speak. It finally erupted. It was nice to see.”
There were two outs when Seager turned on a 1-1 fastball from Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer, who had loaded the bases with three walks.
“I walked a couple of guys and gave up a homer,” Bauer said. “That about sums it up. If I knew what happened, I’d fix it.”
Oddly, or perhaps coincidentally, Seager hit a slam on May 26 — the last time the Mariners scored more than three runs. That was in a 7-6 victory at Tampa Bay when Seager’s solo homer in the 10th provided the winning run.
The Mariners stretched their lead to 6-0 on Logan Morrison’s two-run double in the fourth inning, which also extended Morrison’s career-best hitting streak to 16 games.
Seager and Seth Smith had RBI doubles in a three-run seventh that blew the game open. Mark Trumbo added an RBI single. The lead climbed to 9-1.
Now add another encouraging start from Taijuan Walker, who pitched around some early jams and then held the line after his error in the fourth inning permitted the Indians to score their first run.
Walker was covering first when he failed to catch a throw from shortstop Brad Miller on what began as a potential double-play grounder to first.
“I wasn’t happy about (the error),” Walker said, “and I was a little gassed running over there. I had to regroup. Earlier in the year, situations like that, I’d kind of fold. Now, I have the confidence to keep going after them.”
Overall, Walker (3-6) was solid in delivering a third consecutive quality start (at least six innings and allowing no more than three earned runs). He gave up one run in six innings before handing an eight-run lead to the bullpen.
Joe Beimel pitched a scoreless seventh inning before giving up one run in the eighth. Fernando Rodney then gave up one run in the ninth in his first appearance since, at least temporarily, losing his job as the club’s closer.
The Mariners, for a change, saw the other club pay a price for failing to produce in the clutch. The Indians were 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position and stranded runners in each of the first five innings.
Mike Zunino started the Mariners’ streak-busting third inning with a leadoff walk, but Bauer (5-3) retired the next two hitters before losing the strike zone in walks to Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano.
“Those guys had really good at-bats to work the counts,” Seager said. “He’s a guy who has good stuff, so it’s easy to get a little jumpy on him. Those were really good at-bats.
“For me, he’s got the bases loaded there, and he has to come at you a little bit more. You try to be aggressive but be aggressive in the zone.”
Seager sent a 381-foot drive to right that had just enough carry to clear the wall for his 10th homer of the season. An 18-mph wind might have helped.
“When I first hit it,” Seager said, “I didn’t think it was going to go. I hit it good, but I didn’t think it as enough to get it out of there. I might have played the elements a little.”