Against Angels rookie right-hander Garrett Richards, Michael Saunders went 3-for-3 tonight - a single, double and home run - while the rest of the Seattle Mariners managed only one hit.
By the end of Seattle's 6-1 loss, Saunders was 3-for-4, and everyone else in the Mariners lineup was a combined 2-for-28.
“The kid was throwing 96 mph all night, he cut the ball, he made it sink and had great movement,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Then he mixed in an 89 mph slurve and late in the game showed us a changeup.
“That kid threw one heck of a game.”
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So why was Saunders so successful?
“We tried to find video on him and got a little from last year, but it wasn’t much,” Saunders said. “I watched how he pitched the guys in front of me and had an idea what to expect.
“The first at-bat, he threw all fastballs – cutters, sinkers – and after that I saw off-speed stuff, sliders and a curve, and in the last at-bat against him, he threw me a changeup.”
Saunders hit ropes with all three, and his sixth home run of the season, good for his 20th RBI, produced Seattle’s lone run on the night.
Starter Blake Beavan gave up 10 hits, including three home runs, in five innings. With Hector Noesi starting tonight on short rest, Wedge asked Hisashi Iwakuma to save the bullpen. Iwakuma did, throwing three shutout innings.
So Richards won his first major league game and the Mariners dropped eight games under .500 at 25-33. Tonight, they'll have Noesi starting, a full bullpen to help him hold a lead - and hope they get the chance to hold one.
They'll likely need more than three hits from Saunders to do so.