After watching the team’s slow start the first two weeks, manager Scott Servais implored his players to buckle down.
And spike up the intensity.
It worked out handsomely in this roller-coaster victory over the reigning AL West champions, marking the club’s first sweep of Texas since 2015.
Three takeaway’s from Sunday’s win:
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***Mitch Haniger is your AL rookie of the year … in April: In all honestly, after two weeks, what this new acquisition from Arizona continues to do on a daily basis is not surprising anymore.
On Sunday, it was his most complete game: He hit a momentum-changing three-run home run off one of the league’s better pitchers in Cole Hamels in the third inning. He took a home run away from Texas slugger Joey Gallo by reaching over the right-field fence in the eighth. And he patiently took a bases-loaded walk in the ninth that scored the tying run.
Of course, he will likely hit some sort of wall in his production somewhere down the line – maybe soon.
But you have to ask the question.
What is next?
It might come Monday against Miami.
***Jarrod Dyson will be the fastest Mariners player you see in a long time: Or maybe ever.
It is one thing to lull a pitcher to sleep over at first base, then catch him by surprise by taking off for second base on a steal.
But everyone — including both dugouts — knew the speedster who came over from Kansas City was going to try and steal a base in a close game in the ninth inning.
And he did — with ease — off Texas closer Sam Dyson. Even a perfect throw from Jonathan Lucroy would not have gotten him.
And Jarrod Dyson’s speed was the difference in how the game played out. He could be the club’s best base-stealer since Ichiro, who comes to town Monday.
***Nelson Cruz is finding his hitting stroke: After a horrific road trip to start the season, it did not seem to be getting much better Monday in the home opener for Cruz.
He was impatiently overswinging at every hittable pitch.
But then something odd happened in his second at-bat Monday — Charlie Morton went to an off-speed pitch that Cruz lined into center field for a single.
Since then, Cruz has gone 9 of 22, and is on a six-game hitting streak. He delivered the game-winning hit Sunday on a sharp single.