Think of it as a case of before and after that somehow worked Friday for the Mariners as they kicked off their Ken Griffey Jr. Celebration Weekend with a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Felix Hernandez survived a shaky first inning that found him in a 3-0 hole after three batters, courtesy of a Mike Trout home run. But Hernandez allowed just one more hit in pitching through the eighth inning.
The Mariners beat up on the shell of Tim Lincecum for six runs in the first inning, which more than erased Trout’s homer. After that, the Mariners put runners on base in every inning. And got nothing more.
Also throw in some atrocious base-running, which included scoring one run on a base-loaded drive into the right-field corner that one-hopped the wall.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
It worked out, but manager Scott Servais was fuming.
"There’s many times," he said, "I’ve been at this podium after the game where we don’t win it. We gave the other team chances to come back because we don’t create more separation by adding on a few runs.
"We’re going to address a few things (Saturday). Our base-running has got to get better. Reading the ball off the bat at second base, it’s not good. We’re going to address it and get on it."
Mike Zunino’s three-run homer capped the six-run first inning. He reached down and golfed a change-up from Lincecum with sufficient muscle to clear the left-field wall.
"When you can piece a bunch of hits together like that," Zunino said, "the ball really gets rolling, It was just a fun inning to be a part of."
Hernandez (6-4) gave up four runs and three hits in his longest outing of the season. Rookie Edwin Diaz finished off the Angels by striking out the side in the ninth for his third save in three chances.
"I felt more relaxed today than the first two nights," he said. "I don’t know why, but I felt more relaxed. I was just thinking, `Make my pitches and get the win for Felix.’"
The victory enabled the Mariners to reach the two-thirds point in their season at 55-53. They are seven games behind first-place Texas in the American League West Division and also seven back in the wild-card race.
Lincecum (2-6) exited with one out in the fourth. Nine starts into his comeback, his ERA is 9.16. He is a four-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009 while at San Francisco.
"You know in some areas," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "it looked like Tim took a couple of steps forward…He settled down, put up some zeros after that first inning, but that first inning was rough obviously."
It was rough for Hernandez, too. Again. He has allowed nine runs in the first inning of his four starts since returning from the disabled list. But just six runs in 21 2/3 innings thereafter.
What’s different about the first inning?
"I don’t know," he admitted. "That’s a good question. I’ve got to…I don’t know. I’m going to figure it out. I’ve got to make good pitches in the first inning. I’ve got to keep the ball in the stadium. Just keep the ball down."
Yunel Escobar whacked Hernandez’s first pitch into the left-center gap for a double. Hernandez followed that with a four-pitch walk to Kole Calhoun, which got the game to Trout.
Who crushed a 1-1 change-up for a 425-foot homer to left.
The Angels led 3-0.
The Mariners answered with six runs.
Singles by Nori Aoki, Seth Smith, Robinson Cano produced one run before a squib single by Nelson Cruz loaded the bases with no outs.
Kyle Seager flied out to short right, but Adam Lind drove an RBI single off the right field wall. Leonys Martin tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right.
Zunino then fought back from an 0-2 hole and worked the count full before flicking Lincecum’s down-and-away change-up 387 feet to left for a three-run homer.
"I faced him down in Tacoma for his first rehab start," Zunino said. "I was able to see his stuff. I knew he was going to the curveball and the split. I was trying to battle and get a pitch that I could handle. I was able to barrel it up."
The six runs marked the Mariners’ biggest first inning since they scored seven on May 15, 2013 in a 12-2 victory over New York at Yankee Stadium.
The game’s only other run came on Jett Bandy’s leadoff homer in the LA fifth inning. Hernandez and Diaz faced the minimum 12 batters the rest of the way.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Mariners had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning when Adam Lind pulled a drive into the right-field corner that one-hopped the wall.
Somehow all it produced was a one-run single because Robinson Cano held up at second and only advanced as far as third base.
PLUS: Nori Aoki matched a season-high with three hits and stole two bases for the first time since Aug. 10, 2014…Aoki is batting .308 (12-for-39) since his July 20 recall from Triple-A Tacoma…Adam Lind had three hits for the fourth time this season…Mike Zunino has homers in three of his last four games.
MINUS: Robinson Cano got a dreadful read from second on Adam Lind’s bases-loaded drive into the right-field corner that hopped off the wall. Cano only advanced to third…Shawn O’Malley had a similar bad read from second base on Seth Smith’s single into center in the fourth inning. O’Malley also has to stop at third.
STAT PACK: Mike Trout’s homer in the first inning was the sixth of his career against Felix Hernandez. The only other player with six homers against the King is Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who recently announced plans to retire at the end of the season.
QUOTABLE: The Mariners have scored at least least runs in all four of Felix Hernandez’s starts since he returned July 20 from the disabled list. That hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Manager Scott Servais: "I said to him tonight, `I know you’ve had some years when they haven’t scored you many runs.’ This year, we’ve scored him a few. He needed them. To his credit, he has locked down. He hasn’t bailed. He’s hung in there."
SHORT HOPS: Ken Griffey Jr. got a standing ovation when he made a brief appearance on the field prior to the Mariners coming to bat in the first inning. His No. 24 will be retired Saturday by the Mariners in a pre-game ceremony.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners