A seven-run seventh inning is a pretty good cure-all. Even for a struggling club with a disabled list that seems to grow geometrically on a daily basis.
The Mariners got two-run singles from Danny Valencia and Ben Gamel in breaking open a tie game Saturday night and rolling to an 8-2 victory over the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
The only disappointment is the big inning came too late to reward rookie Chase De Jong for a sparkling performance after what has been a rough introduction to the big leagues.
"Tonight, I did my job," he said. "I went out, and I competed. I just tried to go as long as they’d let me. It was a lot of fun to do. Pitching to contact, being aggressive, that’s what I know I’m capable of doing."
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Recall that it was De Jong whose debut ended in surrendering a walk-off homer in the 13th inning on April 5 in Houston. And he gave up nine runs win just 2 2/3 innings last Sunday in Cleveland in his first big-league start.
De Jong pushed that all aside Saturday in limiting the Rangers to one run and four hits in six innings before the Mariners went to their bullpen.
"To be able to go out there and help the team out," he said, "I didn’t do that in my last outing. That’s where I failed. I know the front office, Scott (Servais) and Mel (Stottlemyre Jr.), they have all the faith in the world in me. They know I’m able to do that.
"But to finally be able to put together a body of work like that in front of fans and everybody, it’s very comforting to me to be able to say, `Look, I can get outs at this level.’"
De Jong was only at 75 pitches when the Mariners went to the bullpen.
"Couldn’t ask for more," Servais said. "I know his pitch count was in very good shape. But going to the game, we were looking for five or six (innings) and to keep it tight. That’s where we were.
"So we went to the bullpen, and our offense stepped up."
It was 1-1 in the seventh inning when the Mariners knocked out Texas starter Martin Perez (1-5) by putting their first two runners on base.
Ben Gamel led off with a single up the middle, and Perez’s throw to first on Tuffy Gosewisch’s sacrifice bunt pulled second baseman Rougned Odor off the base for an error.
The Rangers replaced Perez with Keone Kela as the Mariners’ lineup rolled over and went into high gear.
First, shortstop Elvis Andrus couldn’t make a play on Jean Segura’s slow roller to the short-third hole; it turned into a single that loaded the bases with no outs.
Kela then forced in the go-ahead run by hitting Guillermo Heredia in the biceps with a first-pitch fastball.
Texas changed pitchers again, to Dario Alvarez for a left-on-left matchup against Robinson Cano. but Cano lofted a first-pitch fastball deep enough to center for a sacrifice fly that scored Gosewisch for a 3-1 lead.
After a walk to Nelson Cruz reloaded the bases, Alvarez retired Kyle Seager on a foul pop before the Mariners blew the game open.
Valencia grounded a two-run single up the middle, and Taylor Motter followed with an RBI double into the left-center gap. That got the game back to Gamel, who flicked a two-run single to center.
It was 8-1.
"We can really turn it over," Gamel said. "When everybody is clicking, I wouldn't want to be an opposing pitcher. You’ve got Nelson, Seager and Robby. Heredia has been swinging the bat great.
"Really, everyone top to bottom."
The victory went to James Pazos, who struck out the side in the seventh inning after replacing De Jong. Tony Zych and just-recalled Dan Altavilla closed out the victory.
The Mariners opened the first inning with soft-serve singles by Segura and Heredia, and they moved to second and third on Cano’s grounder to first.
Cruz’s ground out to short scored Segura for a 1-0 lead.
Texas pulled even on Joey Gallo’s one-out homer in the second inning, a 428-foot boomer to right on a 2-2 fastball. It was his 10th homer of the season.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Delino DeShields stole second base with two outs in the first inning when Cano and Segura remained stationary at second and short. Gosewisch came up ready to throw but had to hold the ball.
Normally, it would be Cano, the second baseman, who would cover the base because Elvis Andrus, a right-handed hitter, was at the plate.
But Andrus has the ability to push the ball the other way, so the bench signaled a defensive switch. Cano picked up the change; Segura didn’t. It was Segura who should have covered second.
PLUS: Segura had his second consecutive three-hit game and his fifth of the season. His average is up to .357…the Mariners were 3-for-8 with five RBIs with two outs and runners in scoring position…Motter had two doubles in four at-bats. Of his 18 hits this season, 14 are for extra bases (nine doubles and five homers)…Pazos got his second career victory and struck out the side in his only inning. He has 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.
MINUS: Not much. Every starter had at least one hit except Gosewisch, who sacrifice bunt fueled the seven-run seventh inning.
STAT PACK: The Mariners’ seven-run seventh was their biggest inning of the season…the five hits in the inning were also a season high.
QUOTABLE: De Jong on the Safeco Field’s spacious dimensions and the dampening effect on fly balls with a wind blowing in: "I like Safeco. It’s a good place. It’s a good place to be."
SHORT HOPS: While De Jong failed to get his first big-league victory, he received the celebratory swelmet from third-base coach Manny Acta as the player of the game…Cruz extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the sixth inning. It is the third-longest streak of his career behind a 21-game run in 2015 with the Mariners and a 19-game run in 2010 with Texas.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners