SEATTLE – Proving they were capable of scoring runs and winning games on a somewhat regular basis before Jarred Kelenic’s name was penciled atop their lineup, though it hasn’t felt like it in recent weeks, the Mariners used home runs from Mitch Haniger and Dylan Moore and a triple from recent call-up Donovan Walton to roll to an easy, drama-free 7-3 win over Cleveland on Saturday night at T-Mobile Park.
Similar to the win on Friday night, which was also by 7-3, Seattle picked up a quick first-inning run off Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie to set an early tone.
A night after wowing fans with a homer and two doubles, Kelenic went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts with some tough pitches called strikes that were borderline. Nights like this will happen for any player. And it serves as a reminder to overzealous fans that this game is difficult and failure is common.
After striking out Kelenic looking to start the game, McKenzie had to face Haniger, who homered in his final plate appearance on Friday.
After throwing a first-pitch slider basically down the middle for a called strike that Haniger watched go by with irritation, McKenzie threw the same pitch in virtually the same spot.
It was a mistake.
This time it was McKenzie doing the watching with irritation as Haniger pounced on the pitch, sending a mammoth solo homer off the digital scoreboard above the Mariners bullpen. The majestic blast measured 438 feet and was the longest of his career at T-Mobile Park.
It was Haniger’s 12th homer on the season, which is the most in the American League.
Seattle looked like it might break the game open when Kyle Seager followed with a double, but McKenzie retired the next six batters he faced.
But the reed-ish right-hander, who stands 6-foot-5 and is listed generously at 165 pounds, fell apart in the fourth inning. He walked Seager and Kyle Lewis to start the inning. Later with one out, Moore continued his slow climb out of an awful early-season slump. McKenzie left another slider down the middle and Moore sent a towering fly ball into the unsuspecting folks imbibing and conversing in The ‘Pen. It was Moore’s third homer in six games.
Seattle tacked on another run in the fifth inning on Jose Marmolejos’ sac fly with the bases loaded.
The added run support was useful for Seattle starter Justus Sheffield, who pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts to pick up the win and improve to 3-3 on the season. He dealt with some early traffic on – specifically Cleveland’s All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez, who had three doubles off him.
But he managed to work through the first five innings without allowing a run, getting some help from his defense and executing a few big pitches with runners in scoring position.
Cleveland finally got to Sheffield in the sixth. He issued a leadoff walk and Ramirez followed with his third double in three plate appearances against him. With runners on second and third and no outs, a pair of ground balls to first with the Mariners conceding the runs each scored a run that made it 5-2.
Still, it was a quality start for Sheffield and a bounceback from previous outing in Texas where he gave up seven runs on 10 hits in five innings pitched.
Seattle got scoreless innings from Drew Steckenrider and Will Vest.
Walton, who was called up before Friday’s game, added some key insurance runs in the eighth inning, tripling into the right field corner to score a pair of runs.