Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners 7, Yankees 5: Three-run homers by Zunino, Seager pace win

Mike Zunino’s three-run homer in the sixth inning gave the Mariners a one-run lead.
Mike Zunino’s three-run homer in the sixth inning gave the Mariners a one-run lead. AP

Here was the gospel according to Earl Weaver showing Monday night that his words remain still true today: Pitching defense and the three-run homer is a heck of winning formula.

The Mariners got a pair of three-run homers in their 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees at Safeco Field. Their vaunted bullpen also bounced back after Sunday’s hiccup loss to Milwaukee.

And there was defense.

First, though, the homers.

The Mariners erased a pair of two-run deficits by getting a three-run homer in the fourth inning from Kyle Seager and another in the sixth from Mike Zunino. This makes 32 comeback victories.

"We have a good offense," Seager said. "We’ve been able to do that. That’s something that’s different for us from years past."

Their bullpen produced 3 1/3 scoreless innings after Cody Martin surrendered five runs on four homers — two apiece from Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro.

"Our bullpen again," manager Scott Servais said. "I know it’s tough some nights, but you go 3 1/3 (innings) and don’t give up anything tonight. Really nice job."

Defense?

Right fielder Shawn O’Malley made a diving catch into the stands for the second out in the seventh inning. And second baseman Robinson Cano made a long run later in the inning to track down a Jacoby Ellsbury pop.

Nick Vincent, Vidal Nuno, Steve Cishek and Edwin Diaz provided the bullpen relay. Vincent (3-3) got the victory. Cishek retired Sanchez and Castro while protecting a one-run lead in the eighth inning.

After a Nelson Cruz homer provided a two-run cushion, Diaz worked around a shaky start to the ninth inning by stranding runners at second and third with one out for his 10th save in 10 chances.

The Mariners climbed back to a season-best 10 games over .500 at 67-57 and remained one game behind Baltimore in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.

All-in-all, it amounted to a nice response after blowing a three-run lead Sunday in the ninth inning in a 7-6 loss to Milwaukee.

"It was a tough loss," Zunino said. "We know we’re not going to be perfect. I think guys did a good job of coming to the ballpark with energy today. To get a win like this and come back from behind is huge."

The Mariners trailed 5-3 when they knocked out ex-Mariner Michael Pineda in the sixth inning by putting two runners on base with one out.

New York manager Joe Girardi played match-ups and won the first one when lefty Tommy Layne retired Adam Lind on a pop to second. Girardi then summoned righty Anthony Swarzak to face Zunino.

On a full count, Swarzak (1-2) threw a slider the Zunino reached out and drove 366 feet to right for a three-run homer.

"We had on the report that he was a 50-percent slider guy," Zunino said. "So I went up there and knew I was going to get that eventually. I ended up seeing only one fastball.

"I stepped out 3-2 and told myself, `Commit to hitting the slider.’ And I was able to get one up in the zone and drive it."

The Mariners led 6-5.

Sanchez marked his first at-bat since being selected earlier Monday as the American League player of the week by lining a two-out homer to left in the first inning.

Castro’s leadoff homer in the second extended New York’s lead to 2-0, but the Mariners to grab the lead on Seager’s three-run homer against Pineda in the bottom of the inning — a 403-foot drive to center field on a 3-0 count.

"It’s the ultimate hitter’s count," Seager said. "If you get into that count, and you get the green light, you can be as picky as you want to be. Fortunately for me there, I got a pitch to hit.

"They’re hard to come by off of him."

That lead lasted until Sanchez’s next at-bat, which came with one on and one out in the sixth. He crushed an 88-mph fastball from Martin for a two-run homer to center.

Castro’s second homer, a two-out drive later in the inning, reestablished New York’s two-run lead at 5-3. When Martin then walked Brian McCann, manager Scott Servais went to the bullpen for Vincent.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Right fielder Shawn O’Malley, just inserted for defensive purposes, made a leaping catch into the stands on Tyler Austin’s one-out high foul in the seventh inning.

O’Malley had to push past a fan to make the catch. He held the ball-in-glove aloft as, twisting, he fell backward into the seats.

"I was pretty locked in on the baseball," O’Malley said. "I took a peek as I got to the foul line. I saw the wall was coming up. I thought, maybe, the ball was going to come back.

"It was just like it was hanging on the edge. At the last second, I thought I was close enough that I could give it a lunge. So I took a jump."

First-base umpire Jeff Nelson, the crew chief, went down the line and verified the catch for the out.

"I had some nice fans out there who broke my fall," O’Malley said. "Thank you. I got up with no bumps, no bruises."

O’Malley’s catch overshadowed a fine running catch later in the inning by second baseman Robinson Cano into right field on Jacoby Ellsbury’s pop for the final out.

PLUS: Ex-Yankee Robinson Cano went 3-for-4 and had a web-gem defensive play in the seventh inning…former closer Steve Cishek had a third straight strong outing since returning from the disabled list…Edwin Diaz is 10 for 10 in save opportunities.

MINUS: Seth Smith broke for home on Nelson Cruz’s grounder to third with no outs and runners at first and third in the fourth inning. The Yankees trapped Smith in a rundown for an easy out — but Kyle Seager, the next hitter, erased the mistake by hitting a three-run homer.

STAT PACK: With two homers and a single, Gary Sanchez (54) became only the second Yankees player in history to reach 50-plus total bases in his first 19 games. The other is Joe DiMaggio (56).

QUOTABLE: Rookie closer Edwin Diaz started the ninth inning with a four-pitch walk and, for the third straight time, had trouble controlling his high-octane fastball.

"He’s flying open," manager Scott Servais said. "He’s got to learn how to make those adjustments. When he goes to the slider, he gets his release point back in there. He stays gathered and closed, and the ball goes where it’s supposed to.

"The fastball, right now, is a little bit of challenge. He regrouped and got back into it."

SHORT HOPS: The Mariners broke an eight-game losing streak to the Yankees at Safeco Field…the Mariners lead the majors with 62 go-ahead homers after getting one each from Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino…Edwin Diaz’s 10 straight successful saves to start a career are a Mariners record.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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