So the Mariners second win of the season came thanks to taking a whole bunch of walks, getting a few timely hits, including a two homer night from Michael Morse.
Yeah, that’s not the Mariners way of the past few years. It’s actually the old Oakland way from the A’s days of Jason Giambi and a different drug testing policy.
But the Mariners took eight walks and got hit by pitch in the game. So many pitches, so many free base runners. But unlike past years, they actually capitalized on those base runners. It does help to have some power in the middle of the order.
“I loved the way they fought through at-bats,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “When you do that, good things will happen for you.”
Morse, one of the sluggers brought in by the Mariners (2-0) in the offseason to add some power to the middle of the line-up, erased the 1-0 deficit in the third inning. With runners on first and third and facing A’s starter Jarrod Parker, Morse crushed his first home run of the season. The big right-hander reached out and drove 93 mph fastball on the outside corner over the wall in right field past a leaping Josh Reddick for a three-run homer (VIDEO). He battled with Parker, fouling off two pitches before getting Parker on a 2-2 pitch.
“If I hit it good enough, it’s always got a chance,” Morse said.
It was a big hit at a big time. The one-run deficit turned into a 3-1 lead with one swing.
“That’s a difference maker in a ball game,” Wedge said. “It changes the entire course of the ballgame. Everything changes from there – the way you manage, the entire mindset, the ballpark and both clubs. That was really big for us.”
That’s not something the Mariners had last season.
“It’s great thing to have that ability,” Morse said. “Any time you can change the game like that, it’s a good thing.”
The Mariners added onto the lead – also something unseen in most games last year.
Seager doubled in the fifth inning and scored on Kendrys Morales single up the middle in the fifth.
In the seventh, the Mariners loaded the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch, Justin Smoak then stepped up and took a four-pitch walk to score a run.
They added another run in the eighth when Michael Saunders reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on Seager’s double to left. On the day, Seager went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a single and two walks. That’s some OBP.
And with the Mariners leading comfortably 6-1 in the ninth inning, Morse went with distance over damage in his last at-bat. He destroyed a 94 mph fastball from A’s closer Grant Balfour to center field. The ball carried over the wall at the 400 foot mark and bounced off the wall behind it. (VIDEO)
“Yeah, I knew I had that one,” he said with a grin.
If Cespedes’ homer was impressive, Morse’s homer was ridiculous.
“He can completely take over a game with his bat,” said Kyle Seager, who got on base five times with two doubles, a single and two walks. “Obviously what he did in the ninth was pretty special.”
All that offense was good for Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who pitched six solid innings to pick up the win, yielding only one run despite A’s hitters driving five fly balls to the deepest reaches of the outfield only to see them run down by Mariners outfielders.
“He threw the ball well,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I was really pleased with the way he threw. He was strong. He did a nice job of using his fastball.”
Well, there was one fly ball to the outfield that didn’t get caught. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland’s slugging package of muscle and swinging fury, drilled an Iwakuma slider over the wall in dead center. It was a massive home run. (VIDEO)
It was also one of two hits that Iwakuma would allow. The other was a one-out single from Eric Sogard an inning later. After the Cespedes home run, Iwakuma retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced.
“After the home run, I told myself I needed to stay calm and be patient,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “That got me back into the groove and just being able to locate my pitches carefully.”
Wedge lifted Iwakuma after six innings because of the blister on his middle finger of his throwing had begun to get tender.
“I didn’t want to push it,” Wedge said. “If he didn’t have that, I probably would have sent him back out there. It’s not a big deal, but I want to make sure it doesn’t end becoming a big deal.”