Updated May 31, 2012 - 10:42 am
Mariners relax and score 21 on the Rangers
On Tuesday night John Jaso said that the key to the Mariners' six-run eighth inning was that Kyle Seager did not lead off the inning with a home run. It was Jaso's belief that the home run is a rally killer. What does John Jaso know.
Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak proved him wrong with home runs in back-to-back eight-run innings by the Mariners. I am pretty sure I will never type that again. It was the Mariners' first consecutive seven-plus-run innings and only the seventh time that a team has put up back-to-back eight-run-or-better innings in the history of MLB, according to Elias. There have been more perfect games, more unassisted triple plays and more four-home-run nights in the history of the game than what the Mariners did Wednesday in Arlington. Crazy.
The Mariners beat Texas 21-8 and the game was never that close. En route to their first series win in Texas since September of 2010 the Mariners' hit barrage at one point gave them a 17-0 lead. All just a night after touching up the best bullpen in baseball for six runs in an inning. Think there was some carry over?
The 21 runs scored Wednesday matched the franchise record for runs on the road and was just one shy of the most scored ever by a Mariners team. It was also the most runs scored by a team in MLB this year. The win evened the season series with the Rangers and shot their run differential against them up to plus 14. It also gave them a positive run differential of two for the season. All fun numbers, but there is much more that the Mariners can take from this game.
Eric Wedge insisted after Tuesday night's win that he was happy with all of the at-bats. He loved what he saw in the work his players were putting in before the game in batting practice. We have heard this before from time to time and coming off a five-game losing streak it was easy to interpret this as optimism and perhaps not much more. But then we saw 21 runs on 20 hits.
Key bats came up big. Home runs by Ackley, Montero and Smoak were a welcome sight. Montero got the first hit of the game, leading off the second inning with a single and then later in the same inning hit his seventh home run of the season.
"It was really fun," he told me. "We saw balls, we hit balls. It was fun to bring the runs down and help the team win. Everyone was really hot tonight."
Smoak also stuck around for a walkoff interview. For him, his first multi-home-run game of his career was made extra sweet because of the team it came against.
"It means a lot," he said. "When you get drafted by a team and you debut here, it always means a little more."
Smoak said that there was a lot the team could take from the series win.
"With the pitchers we faced? First inning [Derek Holland] was right on point and the second and third we got to him, made him throw strikes and that was basically the game right there," he said.
Smoak has liked what he has seen from the team's overall approach on the road.
"I think guys are up there looking for a good pitch to hit," he said. "Guys are taking walks more often than we have in the past couple of weeks. That is something we have got to do. Look for your pitch to hit and if you don't get it, don't swing. That's something we are doing right now."
"Go up there with an approach and stick to it," he continued. "Don't let the pitcher get you out of it. You want to hit what you want to hit. That is the key to the game."
These words are very similar to words we have heard from Wedge this year, but this time it was a player explaining the approach with confidence. Get the upper hand on the pitcher. Stay in the approach. Get your fastball. If you don't see it, don't swing at it but be ready. And keep it going. Both Smoak and Montero spoke of not letting up.
"It was unbelievable," Montero said of the atmosphere in the dugout. "Let's keep going, let's keep hitting."
"It's awesome," Smoak echoed. "That was our goal tonight. Once we got to 17 we had to get 20. It was definitely a good night here in Arlington."
Seager, who after going 2-for-22 on the home stand went 7-for-14 with four doubles in the first three games of the trip, liked the confidence he saw in his teammates.
"If we are going to take something from this game we try to take this confidence," he said. "We had a lot of confidence tonight. We kind of got on a roll there. Everyone was feeling good and relaxed. It was one of those nights."
And with that win, 20 games in 20 days comes to an end. A well deserved off day Thursday.
One note: After the game the team announced that Steve Delabar has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. A corresponding move will not be announced until Friday but count on seeing Stephen Pryor in the pen.
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