Gangham Style blasted from the speakers in the Mariners’ clubhouse after Wednesday’s game — and why not?
For one day, at least, Dae-Ho Lee achieved folk-hero status at Safeco Field after his two-run homer halted a five-game skid by lifting the Mariners to a 4-2 walk-off victory over the Texas Rangers.
“I have no problem dancing,” Lee said. “I’d rather just say that I’m so happy that we stopped the losing streak.
“When I made contact with the ball, I thought it was a home run, but I wasn’t sure. I just wanted to make sure I was running.”
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Lee turned on an 97-mph fastball from Rangers reliever Jake Diekman — an 0-2 fastball — and powered it over the left-field wall. It was just the sort of swing the Mariners didn’t see from Lee throughout spring training.
“How was he going to handle the velocity,” manager Scott Servais acknowledged, “there were concerns there. The thing that we kept seeing is he is able to make adjustments.
“He cuts down the leg kick. He cuts down his swing to make contact. And he’s plenty strong enough that if he does square it up, he’s got enough power. He makes adjustments, and he’s played a lot of baseball.”
Lee’s homer was the third walk-off homer in club history, and it enabled the Mariners (3-6) to salvage the final game in their six-game homestand.
“Exciting game,” Servais said. “We really, really needed it.”
Nelson Cruz started the winning rally by reaching first base when his hard one-out grounder ate up second baseman Rougned Odor for an error. Kyle Seager’s grounder to third turned into a force at second.
Lee batted for Adam Lind…and cue up Gangham Style.
“There was zero execution of the pitch,” Diekman said. “It was my fault.”
Before Lee’s heroics, the Mariners were staring at the possibility of another agonizing loss.
Joel Peralta surrendered a one-run lead in the eighth inning for the second time in four days — and in the same manner: a leadoff homer. This time, Delino DeShields made it 2-2 with a no-doubt drive to left.
On Sunday, Peralta inherited a 1-0 lead from Felix Hernandez and gave up a leadoff homer to Oakland’s Marcus Semien in the eighth. The Athletics won that game in 10th inning.
But Steve Cishek (1-1) worked two scoreless innings before Lee won it.
Also encouraging: Taijuan Walker recovered from a 30-pitch first inning by holding the Rangers to one tainted run in six innings. He handed a 2-1 lead to reliever Vidal Nuno, who worked a scoreless seventh inning.
The Rangers opened the scoring in the third inning after shortstop Ketel Marte provided an opportunity by failing to touch second base on what should have been a double play after DeShields’ leadoff single.
DeShields was still at second with two outs when Adrian Beltre sent a soft grounder through the right side for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead.
The Mariners answered with a run later in the inning thanks to a big assist from the Texas defense but missed the chance for much more.
First, left fielder Ian Desmond dropped Nori Aoki’s leadoff fly for a two-base error. Seth Smith then grounded an RBI single up the middle and went to second when DeShields mishandled the ball.
With one out, Cruz swung through a third strike, but catcher Brett Nicholas couldn’t handle the pitch. The result was a passed ball that put runners at first and third with one out.
But Seager grounded into a double play.
The Mariners took a 2-1 lead on Robinson Cano’s 390-foot homer to right with two outs in the fifth inning against Texas starter A.J. Griffin. It stayed 2-1 until the eighth.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Right fielder Nelson Cruz ran down Brett Nicholas’ hooking drive in the corner in the second and turned it into an inning-ending double play.
Hanser Alberto broke from first on the play, apparently believing Cruz couldn’t reach the ball. Alberto was at third base when Cruz’s throw came into first baseman Adam Lind.
PLUS: Closer Steve Cishek retired all six batters in the ninth and 10th innings. He struck out the side in the 10th…Leonys Martin registered the Mariners’ first stolen base of the season when he pulled off a delayed steal in the fourth. He broke for second when Texas pitcher A.J. Griffen still had the ball and made it easily when Griffen threw to first.
MINUS: Shortstop Ketel Marte returned to the lineup after a day off to refocus. Maybe one day wasn’t enough. He made a costly mistake in the field and continued to look lost at the plate. He struck out weakly in his first two at-bats…The Mariners challenged a call at first on Delino DeShields’ leadoff infield single. It took 3 minutes, 48 seconds to uphold the call. Too long.
STAT PACK: Robinson Cano regained the American League lead in home runs when he hit his fifth of the season. He entered the day tied with Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson for the league lead.
QUOTABLE: Dae-Ho Lee’s thoughts as he rounded third base after his homer and saw the Mariners waiting for him at the plate: “I didn’t want to get beat up by the players.”
SHORT HOPS: Nori Aoki has hits in eight straight games…Adam Lind broke a 0-for-14 skid with a single in the sixth inning…Cishek won his first game since July 1, 2015 while pitching for Miami against San Francisco…It was the Mariners’ first walk-off victory of the year. They had six in 2015.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners