OAKLAND, Calif. — Just in case you haven’t been paying attention…the Mariners are rolling.
They got home runs Tuesday night from Leonys Martin, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in administering an 8-2 thumping to the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.
That clinched a sixth straight series victory for the Mariners, who also moved atop the American League West Division. OK, yes, the calendar hasn’t yet reached Cinco de Mayo, but this still isn’t the norm.
"There’s definitely a lot of confidence in (the dugout)," Seager said. "It’s a lot more confident than it’s been. It’s a great culture in there. Everybody is having fun. It’s just a good group to be around."
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Hisashi Iwakuma (1-3) finally got his first victory by limiting the Athletics to one run and four hits in seven innings before Mayckol Guaipe and newcomer Steve Johnson closed out the Mariners’ 13th victory in 18 games.
"We’ve got four or five guys starting to click at the same time," manager Scott Servais said. "When you’ve got that going, you can put up nights like tonight."
The Mariners (15-11) did most of their damage against Oakland ace Sonny Gray, who dropped to 3-3 after matching career worsts by giving up seven runs and 11 hits in seven-plus innings.
"Always with Sonny Gray," Cano said, "you think you’re only going to get one or two runs. No more than three. But everyone has those situations where you struggle a little bit."
Martin’s two-run homer in the third inning opened the scoring. Cano made it 3-0 with a leadoff shot in the fourth before Seager capped a four-run eighth with a three-run shot against reliever Marc Rzepcynski.
It was tight for much of the night.
Iwakuma carried a 3-0 lead into the sixth but began the inning by yielding a single to Billy Burns, who stole second. Jed Lowrie followed with an RBI single on a grounder up the middle, but the Athletics settled for one run.
"I was able to execute when I needed to," Iwakuma said. "More than that, the defense helped me out the whole game. It saved me. I got out of a lot of jams."
Shortstop Ketel Marte ended the Oakland sixth by starting a double play with a web gem, and then opened the seventh with a single. Marte went to second on a wild pitch and to third on Steve Clevenger’s fly to center.
Marte had to hold on Martin’s fly to short right but scored on Nori Aoki’s infield single. Iwakuma followed that with a shutdown inning before the Mariners knocked out Gray in the eighth.
Cano led off with a double to left and went to third on Nelson Cruz’s seeing-eye single through the left side. Adam Lind’s pop into short left should have been an out, but it fell between three Oakland players.
It was scored an RBI single, which made it 5-1. The Athletics went to their bullpen at that point for Rzepcynski, who floated a 2-2 sinker that Seager tagged for a 410-foot homer.
The lead was 8-1.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Shortstop Ketel Marte started an inning-ending double play in the sixth by snaring Khris Davis sharp grounder after the Athletics had scored one run and had a runner at first.
Marte made an acrobatic back-hand flip to second baseman Robinson Cano for the force, and Cano completed the double play with a strong throw to first.
"If somebody hits it to me," Marte shrugged, "I’m going to give it 100 percent to make the play and get the out."
PLUS: Nori Aoki has at least one hit in all 14 of his career games against the Athletics. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and…shortstop Ketel Marte was 2-for-4 and has reached base safely in all 14 of his career games against Oakland…the bottom three hitters in the Mariners’ lineup — Marte, Steve Clevenger and Leonys Martin — combined to go 6-for-12…Robinson Cano’s double and homer were both to the opposite field…Five different players had two hits.
MINUS: Right fielder Seth Smith was hitless in five at-bats for the second straight game. Not much else not to like.
STAT PACK: The Mariners have a chance to sweep the Athletics by winning Wednesday’s series. The Mariners had chances to sweep three of their five previous series but lost the third game each time (at New York, and at home against Houston and Kansas City).
QUOTABLE: Leonys Martin on his two-run homer against Oakland starter Sonny Gray, which opened the scoring: "He’s the type of pitcher who attacks the strike zone. He keeps the ball down. When you get a pitch, you have to take advantage because he is a great pitcher.
"I just say `Thank God, he made a little mistake.’ And I hit that homer."
Martin’s homer was his fifth homer of the season, which matched his 2015 total in 95 games at Texas. His career high is eight for the Rangers over 147 games in 2013
SHORT HOPS: Third baseman Kyle Seager is looking more like a former Gold Glove winner in recent games. The latest example came in the fifth inning when he took away a hit hit from Yonder Alonso by backhanding a low liner for the second out.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners