Seattle Mariners

Three takeaways after Mariners pull back to .500 with another blowout victory at Texas

Mike Zunino circled the bases twice Wednesday on home runs in an 8-1 victory at Texas.
Mike Zunino circled the bases twice Wednesday on home runs in an 8-1 victory at Texas. AP

Mike Zunino keeps saying he pulled out of a recent slump by concentrating on not pulling the ball.

And, OK, he hit a 402-foot drive to the right field that capped a five-run seventh inning Wednesday, which carried the Mariners to an 8-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

"That’s sort of what I’ve been working on," Zunino said. "Trying to clean up some mechanics. It’s been a work in progress, but I’ve hit more balls over there than I have in the past.

"It’s nice to see that and especially to see the power that way."

But Zunino can still turn on a pitch — as he proved with a 470-foot drive in the fifth inning against Texas starter Martin Perez that landed in the upper deck beyond the left-field wall at Globe Life Park.

Four hundred and seventy feet. Texas officials said it was only the fourth ball to land in that level since the park opened in 1994.

"I knew I hit it well," Zunino said. "I’ve seen a lot of BPs here, a lot of big guys hitting here, and I haven’t seen one go up there. I guess it’s cool to be a part of that group. It’s nice when they go that far."

Zunino’s first homer opened the scoring and was the longest drive of his career. He now has a career-best 23 homers and is batting .379 (22-for-58) in his last 17 games.

There was so much more.

Kyle Seager keyed the five-run seventh inning with a two-run single in a tough left-on-left matchup against reliever Jake Diekman. Jean Segura had two hits, including a two-run homer. Mitch Haniger also had two more hits.

Mike Leake also improved to 3-0 as a Mariner by limiting the Rangers to one run in 5 2/3 innings before the bullpen covered the final 10 outs. Leake has allowed five runs in 18 2/3 innings for a 2.41 ERA.

"The key for us tonight was certainly Leake getting us deep in the game," manager Scott Servais said. "Perez was throwing the ball outstanding, and he’s been one of the hottest pitchers in the league."

The victory pulled the Mariners back to .500 at 73-73 with 16 games remaining, but they remained 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. The Twins had a walk-off victory over San Diego.

Zunino’s boomer and Segura’s homer in the fifth inning came against Perez, who had win his last seven starts. The Rangers scored once in the sixth before the Mariners blew the game open with their five-run seventh.

THREE TAKEAWAYS:

***Hit Machine perks up: Segura entered the game in a 4-for-33 slide that had dropped his average to .295, its lowest point since April 7. He opened the game by grounding a single up the middle and added a two-run homer in the fifth.

Segura’s homer was his 10th of the year, which made him the seventh Mariner this season to reach double figures. Ben Gamel needs one more homer to become the eighth player.

Overall, Segura finished 2-for-4, which nudged his average back to .297.

***Cano ejected: Robinson Cano probably deserved his ejection in the seventh inning after beefing to home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza, who called a check-swing third strike.

First, the replays showed Cano did swing. Second, if Carapazza believes he has a clear view of the swing, there is no reason for him to ask for help from the third-base umpire — and Carapazza made the call immediately.

Third, you’re simply not allowed to argue balls and strikes. Perhaps, Carapazza could have waited another second or two to see whether Cano would walk away, but it wasn’t a hair-trigger ejection.

***Surviving the first: Leake stumbled at the start of his two previous starts since arriving in an Aug. 30 trade from St. Louis. Both times, he trailed 2-0 after facing just three hitters before finding a groove.

This time, he gave up a one-out double to Shin-Soo Choo but otherwise worked a quiet first inning. Leake gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings and improved to 3-0 as a Mariner.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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