Seattle Mariners

Trade for Alonso starting to pay dividends for Mariners

Yonder Alonso is making a impact for the Mariners after a slow start.
Yonder Alonso is making a impact for the Mariners after a slow start. AP

All it took, apparently, was a little change in approach to turn Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso back into the player whose production earlier this year turned him into an All-Star for the first time in his career.

"I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the staff," he said recently. "I’ve been coming in here early and working to make a few adjustments on things they’ve been noticing."

Alonso went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs on Monday in helping the Mariners to a 6-5 victory over Atlanta in the start to a three-game series.

"I am just competing and trying to get on base," he told reporters afterward. "I know if I get on base, it’s a greater chance with the lineup that we have."

True enough. He also scored twice, including once on a slide where he eluded an attempted tag by Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki.

"Big night for Alonso," manager Scott Servais said. "He was on everything all night."

The Mariners acquired Alonso, 30, from Oakland in an Aug. 6 trade for outfielder Boog Powell.

It was a short-term move since Alonso will be a free agent this winter, but the Mariners, anticipating a heavy dose of right-handed pitching in the closing weeks, felt the need for additional left-handed punch.

Early returns weren’t promising.

Alonso went 1-for-14 in his first four games, which continued a slide that started roughly a month earlier in Oakland (17-for-79 over 26 games). The Mariners pushed for a more-aggressive approach.

"Earlier in the year," manager Scott Servais said, "he was attacking the fastball. What we saw against us is if you didn’t locate the breaking ball, he really punished you. We wanted him to get back to that."

Alonso is 13-for-30 in his last eight games (.433) with six runs and eight RBIs.

Other watchpoints:

***Lefty Marco Gonzales (0-0 with a 7.11 ERA) will try to make it through five innings for the first time in four starts since his promotion from Triple-A Tacoma when the Mariners continue their series against the Braves at 4:35 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday.

***The Braves are starting rookie right-hander Lucas Sims, a first-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He is 1-3 with a 5.24 ERA in four starts since his Aug. 1 promotion from Triple-A Gwinnett.

***The Mariners (64-62) begin the day trailing Minnesota (64-60) by one game in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. Los Angeles (64-61) is one-half game behind the Twins.

***The Mariners have clinched a winning interleague record for the second consecutive year after not posting one since 2009. They are 11-7 with two games remaining against the Braves.

***Monday’s victory pulled the Mariners to .500 on the road at 30-30. They are 34-32 at home.

***The Mariners are 22-11 in one-run games, which matches the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best mark in either league. The Mariners’ current .667 winning percentage in one-run games is the second-best in franchise history. The 2001 club went 26-12 (.684). 

TIME CAPSULE

It was 14 years ago Tuesday — Aug. 22, 2003 — that Shigetoshi Hasegawa’s scoreless streak ended at 28.2 scoreless innings when he gave up a one-out homer to Jason Varitek in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss to Boston at Fenway Park.

Hasegawa’s streak began June 3, covered 25 games and remains a franchise record for a reliever. The overall franchise record is 34 1/3 innings by Mark Langston in 1988. 

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

 
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