The Mariners won their third series in four Sunday, as they defeated the Oakland A’s 6-1 to the delight of mothers everywhere. The team improved to 18-20 behind 6.1 solid innings from Joe Saunders and home runs from Kendrys Morales and Jason Bay. Personally, it was the first game I’ve attended this year after getting home from college on Saturday. Here are a few things I observed from section 146, row 4.
“Safeco Joe” lives up to his nickname
Saunders continued his absurd splits trend by turning in another dominant home win to improve to 3-4 in 2013. He allowed just one run over 6.1 innings, striking out a season high six batters, including Brandon Moss three times. He struggled with control at times, walking three batters, but good defense from Brendan Ryan got him out of a big jam in the second inning. He improved to 9-0 in his Safeco Field career in 13 starts. Saunders will only start once on the next road trip, and I’m sure he’ll tank again.
Moved-in fences help M’s play long ball.
Morales set the tone for the Mariners with an important three-run big fly in the first inning and Bay carried one out to straight away center for an insurance run in the seventh. What did both homers have in common? Most likely, neither would have cleared the fences in 2012 Safeco. Both of them were well hit and well-deserved the runs they produced, but both went out to previously extremely difficult parts of the park to homer in. Morales hit his to right-center, and without his big time swing, Saunders may not have had the confidence to pitch boldly in his second-inning jam.
Andino and Ryan hit the ball hard a few times
Sure, starting Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino at the same time seems like a horrible idea. And it played out that way, as the two middle infielders combined to go 0-for-7 with a walk and two strikeouts. But in both of their first two at bats, Ryan and Andino hit the ball hard. Both flew out to deep center in the second inning. In the fifth, both men flew out again, with Ryan’s poke forcing Michael Taylor to make a sliding catch in left. With their averages dropping to .159 (Andino) and .122 (Ryan), Carlos Truinfel and Nick Franklin are looming in AAA as legit possibilities. Today, both Ryan and Andino were unlucky not to improve their averages somewhat.
Perez showed off A-plus stuff
The game was over when Oliver Perez took the hill in the ninth inning, but he sure pitched like he had a lot to prove. Perez struck out the side, victimizing Nate Freiman, Moss and Michael Taylor with a hard sinker and nasty slider. The Mariners bullpen has shined in 2013, and the late-inning combination of Perez, Carter Capps and Tom Wilhelmsen helps the Mariners hold slim leads with regularity.
The M’s are off Monday before heading to the Bronx for a three-game set with the American League East leading Yankees.