Kyle Seager was apparently cooped up in Scott Servais’ office on Tuesday, a meeting he had called for.
Seager has this thing about starting seasons not-so-fast and that had looked like a trend continuing into 2018.
Except Servais afterward praised Seager’s mechanics “he’s just really good at the plate right now.”
Despite entering Tuesday hitting .171?
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“His timing isn’t consistent yet, but I think mechanically he feels like he’s in a good spot,” Servais said.
So Seager then went 2-for-3 with the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning and three RBIs in the Mariners’ 4-2 series-clinching win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
In his past four games, Seager is 5-for-17 with two home runs, a double and seven RBI.
"The hit the other way last night was the big one," Seager said in a postgame radio interview. "That was the cleanest I've felt. That was the one I needed to feel."
And now the Mariners are 6-4 with reinforcements on the way.
They’ve been out four of their position starters. No Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino, Ryon Healy or Ben Gamel for effectively all of these first 10 games. That’s a combined 100 home runs from last year.
But Gamel is expected to return Friday and Cruz and Zunino by some point this weekend when the Mariners end this 5,200-mile, 10-day, eight-game road swing with a home series against the Oakland Athletics after an off-day on Thursday.
To be 6-4 after a slip in the dugout, crutches after a post-game workout, the coldest game in Mariners history, a cold-out and a bald-eagle altercation among the seems-much-longer early Mariners season – this has to be a plus for them.
“It was a winning road trip for us,” Seager said. “We played some good teams, some tough weather and we got some reinforcements on the way. But we did what we did.”
“Guys particularly at the top of our lineup have been outstanding,” Servais told reporters. “They’ve been driving the train for us offensively.
“I like where our club is and we’re still not at full strength yet. We’re in a good spot. Kind of under-the-radar and we’re OK with that.”
Seager’s two-run home run landed just over the right-field wall in the top of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie. And it came after Mitch Haniger battled to draw a two-out walk after just hooking foul a hanging curveball that seemed destined to land over the fence.
“Kyle feels good about his swing,” Servais said. “It’s just a timing thing. Every once in a while he gets not as consistent as he’d like to be. But the couple of changes he made mechanically he feels really good about and he’s starting to get some results.
“That was a huge home run. That ball was up in the air forever and we had just enough wind to help him out today. A couple of big hits and that’s what Seags is about.”
So the Mariners turned to Juan Nicasio for a dramatic bottom of the eighth when he spotted the Royals runners at first and third with no outs.
Nicasio then struck out the Royals’ Cheslor Cuthberth, got Lucas Duda to pop up to Seager at third base and then Jorge Soler to ground into a fielder’s choice to escape with no damage.
Then Edwin Diaz – no problem. Diaz entered having struck out 11 of the possible 12 outs to start the season (a strikeout-per-nine-innings of 24.8).
That was Diaz’s fourth save in four chances. And it saved a nice start from James Paxton.
Let’s get to it. Three takeaways:
SHARP PAXTON: One of the critical points in this game: the sixth inning.
The game was tied, 2-2, and a pair of runners were on base with Paulo Orlando, who had doubled earlier against Paxton, at the plate. So Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlmyre Jr. went to the mound.
“He was like, ‘I want your best stuff right here,’” Paxton recalled. “(Orlando) got the fastball down and away last time and he just said, ‘Empty the tank right here and give it all you got.’ And that’s what I did.”
Paxton threw cutter, cutter, cutter. Three strikes, sit him down, inning over.
And Paxton tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts. And, even better, he wasn't targeted by a bald eagle this time.
“There was plenty left in the tank,” Servais said. “So no hesitation about leaving him out there and letting him finish.
Thoug, his command looked shaky to start the game – beginning with six consecutive balls before throwing his first strike.
“I got behind in a few more counts than I wanted to,” Paxton said. “I need to get in the strike zone earl to keep that pitch count down.”
He hit a groove until he got to the fourth inning.
Mike Moustakas, who hit home runs in each of the first two games of this series, and Cuthbert hit back-to-back singles before Paxton struck out the next two hitters. So that left two outs for Orlando.
He send a liner to the wall to tie the game, 2-2.
But after allowing six runs his first start, two runs in five innings with five strikeouts last week against the Twins and now this – 6 innings, 10 strikeouts, one walk on 102 pitches, Paxton seems to be getting stronger with each start.
“You are starting to see it click up,” Servais said. “He got in a groove with his fastball. You could see it. The ball was just exploding and that’s what we’re used to seeing in Pax.”
EARLY DAMAGE: Speaking of that top-of-the-lineup Servais mentioned.
The Mariners struck first after Dee Gordon’s lead-off single. He’s hit in each of the Mariners’ 10 games this year and he has a 16-game hit streak dating back to last season with the Marlins.
And Royals starter Danny Duffy labored. He walked Robinson Cano and Mitch Haniger back-to-back to load the bases for Kyle Seager, who scored Gordon on a sacrifice fly. Duffy’s ensuing wild pitch then scored Cano, who raced to third on Seager’s fly.
That’s the second consecutive game Gordon has led off the Mariners’ scoring by getting on base early.
PEN IS MIGHTY: It was a shaky eighth inning for Juan Nicasio, but in the box score it will go down as three scoreless innings of relief out of Nick Vincent (a quick 1-2-3 seventh inning), Nicasio and Edwin Diaz.
“Juan is interesting,” Servais laughed. “He keeps me on the edge of my seat.”
Diaz was a little off on Wednesday, though … only one strikeout.
But Diaz picked up his fourth save to start the season and the Mariners’ bullpen has backed up what the Mariners’ brass said most of this offseason about how deep and talented that group is. And this is without David Phelps, who is out for the season because of Tommy John surgery.
Three batters have reached now against Diaz: A pair of hit batters on Opening Day and the Royals’ Paulo Orlando reached on a ground-ball error in Wednesday’s game. Diaz struck out the side in Tuesday’s 8-3 win.
Diaz has yet to allow a hit this season.