Kyle Seager has been driving the ball to all parts of Safeco Field lately — just not out of it like he’s been used to.
But on Sunday, the Mariners third baseman picked a good time to end his nearly two-month homer drought in his home ballpark.
Seager hammered a Sam Dyson fastball over the 380-foot sign in right center in the eighth inning for a go-ahead solo shot, and the Mariners came back to edge Texas, 4-3, in front of 32,518.
The Mariners wrapped up the week by winning four of six games against AL West foes (Angels, Rangers), and have won four of their five series at Safeco Field.
All while using a revolving-door roster, especially on the pitching staff.
“Our offense is going to be the key for us as we get rolling in the stretch we are at with our starting pitching — with Felix (Hernandez) out, with (James) Paxton out and with (Drew) Smyly out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Our confidence is very high right now. After the shaky first 10-12 games we played, we are starting to get some momentum going.”
Some people might scratch their heads on how the Mariners exactly scratched out this victory.
They were down to Dillon Overton, their seventh starting pitcher, who did not make it out of the fourth inning. He gave up two runs.
He was replaced by Christian Bergman, who arrived Sunday from Triple-A Tacoma. Bergman made his Mariners’ debut in relief, tossing three-plus solid innings.
Yet, the Seattle offense was handled easily by Texas right-hander Andrew Cashner, who pitched six strong innings.
But after Cashner was pulled early in the seventh inning, the Mariners got on base four times via the walk in their next six at-bats.
And with two outs, Danny Valencia — who came off the bench after he was a late scratch with hamstring soreness — lined a two-run single to center field off Alex Claudio to tie the game at 3-3.
“If they needed an at-bat, or me to play defense late in the game, I made it very clear I was available,” Valencia said. “(Claudio) is tough. Luckily, I’ve faced him a few times in my career to know what he is trying to do.
“Today kind of fell my way.”
The last time the Mariners had a getaway game against the Rangers was three weeks ago on April 16. Dyson came on to try to get a save, only to give up two runs in an 8-7 Seattle victory.
This time, the former Rangers closer fell behind Seager on a 2-0 count. And he came in with a fastball.
“He has so much movement on his fastball, you are just trying to get him up (in the strike zone),” Seager said. “I’ve hit my fair share of ground balls off of him, so I was trying to get one in the air.”
Seager’s hit never left its line, disappearing over the right-center wall. It was his first Safeco Field home run since Sept. 8, also against the Rangers in a 6-3 Mariners’ victory.
It was Seager’s second home run of 2017 — a year after he hit a career-high 30.
“He feels good about where his swing is right now. Maybe he’s not getting all the results … but he is in a really good place mentally,” Servais said. “One thing about Seags, he knows at the end of the year, his numbers will be there.”
And Seager loves May. He has 23 career home runs in the month, second-most behind August (25).
“I’ve hit some here before,” Seager said. “I kind of remember a little bit. It definitely feels good to get one in a big situation.”
PLAY OF THE GAME: Seager was overdue on his power stroke. It returned just in time. His solo home run with one out in the eighth inning was the difference.
PLUS: Valencia (hamstring) did not start, but tied the game in the seventh inning with a two-run single. He has hit .371 in his past 10 games, driving in nine runs. … Jean Segura recorded his 11th multihit game, and has hit .400 since his return from the disabled list April 25.
MINUS: Robinson Cano grounded into a pair of double plays, and was the last out of the seventh inning after the Mariners tied it at 3-3.
STAT PACK: Nelson Cruz went hitless in four at-bats, ending his 15-game hitting streak. It had been the second-longest active streak in the majors. … M’s reliever Nick Vincent retired 36 of the past 40 batters he had faced — until Jonathan Lucroy’s two-out double in the eighth inning. He has not been scored upon in his past 12 innings.
SHORT HOPS: Valencia said his hamstring has been bothering him for the past few days, and thought Sunday was a good time to give it a rest. Taylor Motter started in his place at first base. … Right-hander Bergman, the PCL’s first 5-0 pitcher this season, was the latest player to be promoted from Tacoma. He pitched out of a bases-loaded jam while giving up one run.
QUOTABLE: “Kyle Seager had a really good series. It didn’t always show up in the boxscore, but with the number of balls he’s hit hard in the last three or four games, he is starting to get locked in.” — Servais