SEATTLE — This is what the Mariners needed Monday night, a relative breather after an intense weekend in Anaheim, which followed three games against first-place Oakland prior to the All-Star break.
And for one night, anyway, the New York Mets played the role of that avuncular uncle whose visits were always welcome. The Mariners jumped to an early lead and eased their way to a 5-2 victory at Safeco Field.
“If we’re going to make a push here,” Willie Bloomquist said, “we’re going to have to score some runs. That’s obviously something we, as a team, need to do a better job of.”
This was an encouraging step.
Kyle Seager continued his SoDo tear with a pair of RBI singles; that makes 20 RBIs in his last 18 home games. Mike Zunino hit a tape-measure home run, while Bloomquist scored twice and had three hits.
Left fielder Dustin Ackley produced a showtime catch at the wall that snatched a homer away from Travis d’Arnaud. Ackley also contributed two singles and a double to a 14-hit attack.
Rookie lefty Roenis Elias (8-8) left after 5 1/3 innings after experiencing a cramp his left forearm. He gave up five hits while striking out eight and walking two.
“It was just a little bit of a cramp there,” he said. “I just felt a little stinger, and they decided to take me out.”
Before that, Elias appeared refreshed in his first start in 12 days.
“Pretty darn good,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Cramp in his hand, I didn’t want to take a chance. He was outstanding. That was good to see. Got freshened up.”
It was also a good night for the Mariners (53-46) in the germinating wild-card chase. They pushed their lead for the American League’s final postseason berth to 2 1/2 games when their four closest pursuers all lost.
Elias turned over a 4-1 lead to reliever Dominic Leone, who immediately served up a deep drive to d’Arnarud…that merely turned into a loud second out when Ackley pulled the ball back from over the wall.
“I felt something,” Ackley said. “Once I lost sight of my glove and the ball, I wasn’t really positive. I knew I felt something. I didn’t know if it hit off my glove or go in the web.”
The crowd of 21,943 ooo-ed, ahhh-ed and then roared.
Leone, Charlie Furbush, Brandon Maurer and Danny Farquhar nursed it home. It marked just the second time since July 2 that the Mariners won a game by more than two runs.
“Every game we’ve been in has been pretty close,” said Bloomquist, who started at shortstop. “It’s come down to a big hit here or there.
“It was nice to jump out to a lead, to get out of the gate early and get a few runs on the board. Hopefully, we can continue that.”
The Mets finished with nine hits — one in every inning; but never more than one. And all were singles
“You need to bunch them,” New York manager Terry Collins said. “Unless you’re walking, those singles don’t do much of you don’t bunch them together.
“(The Mariners) got a couple of guys on, and they’d get a big hit. But we’d get a guy on, and we just couldn’t get an extra-base hit or anything to get a guy in.”
Mets lefty Jon Niese, out since July 4 because of a strained shoulder, dropped to 5-5 after allowing four runs and 11 hits before exiting after six innings.
“He was a little rusty,” Collins said. “The only pitch I thought was really bad was the one to Zunino, when he left the ball up.”
That came on Niese’s first pitch in the second after the Mets had pulled even at 1-1 on David Wright’s two-out RBI single earlier in the inning. Zunino sent a fastball an estimated 415 feet into the upper deck in left field.
“It was just a fastball up in the zone,” Zunino said, “and I was able to get it out. Ones like that, you have a good feeling about. The last couple of days, I’ve put a lot of work in. It was nice to see some results.”