It was almost as if the Mariners said "enough" Sunday as they avoided a four-game sweep in Oakland by pounding their way to an 11-1 victory over the Athletics.
Taylor Motter’s grand slam capped a five-run third inning that provided Yovani Gallardo with more than enough support to win for the first time in four starts. Nelson Cruz had five RBIs, including a three-run homer in the seventh inning.
The victory followed a series of roster moves designed to shake up an underperforming roster. For one day, at least, it worked.
Three takeaways from Sunday’s victory:
***Motter will play: Taylor Motter’s tour as the starting shortstop ends Tuesday if, as expected, the Mariners activate Jean Segura from the disabled list. That shifts Motter back to duty as a utilityman but doesn’t mean he goes back to the bench.
Motter batted .289 in 12 games as Segura’s replacement with six doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs. He’s going to play somewhere until he cools off. It could be as a right-handed option at first base or in the outfield. But somewhere.
***It’s a "Do Good" League: Just a few days after manager Scott Servais said it was to soon to draw conclusions regarding the club’s slow start, the Mariners designated Leonys Martin for assignment and benched Danny Valencia.
Just-recalled Dan Vogelbach figures to get a long look at first base, particularly against right-handed pitchers, and Motter could be the short-term choice — not Valencia — against lefty opponents.
The Mariners will likely send Martin through waivers to see whether any club is willing to pick up the remainder of his $4.85 million contract. If not, Martin could wind up at Triple-A Tacoma.
Valencia has sufficient service time (unlike Martin) to refuse a minor-league assignment and not forfeit the remainder of his $5.5 million salary if the Mariners choose to designate him for assignment. That probably buys him some time.
But what Sunday reaffirmed is the Mariners see themselves as being in "win now" mode. They’re not going to jack around too long with players who underperform.
***A new-look Yo: Veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo switched his approach Sunday, and the results were remarkably better.
To hear Servais tell it, Gallardo threw more changeups and offered a better "back-and-forth" mix instead of simply relying on a cutter/slider combination. Whatever it was, he limited the Athletics to one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
It’s only one game, but if Sunday’s changes mean Gallardo can be a reliable performer, much like he was in 2015 at Texas, the rotation just got a lot better.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners