SEATTLE — And with one swing the Mariners’ losing streak ended, mercifully, at eight games.
Kyle Seager made sure of that by blasting a three-run, walk-off homer in the ninth, which also helped snap his personal slump at the plate for a day. Seager’s home run — his second of the game and season — gave the Mariners a badly needed 5-3 win Wednesday against the Astros in front of a crowd of 13,739.
That is the good news. What comes next could prove to be just as important for the rest of the Mariners’ season, which looks far colder than the team’s hot start hinted at.
The Mariners are now 8-13 and 5 1/2 games back of the first-place Rangers.
“I said when I took the job that I wanted them to take on my personality,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “And I think you guys can see: I didn’t have any panic. The fact is, you’re going to have losing streaks during the season. How you deal with them will define what type of team you become. Over a 162-game schedule, nobody said it was going to be a bed of roses every day.”
The Mariners have averaged just 2.8 runs since an impressive offensive showing in the first series of the season against the Angels. Abraham Almonte’s batting average is down to .213, Brad Miller is hitting .183 and Seager, despite his two-homer day, is still hitting only .179.
The Mariners rank 28th in the league in runs scored while also ranking in the bottom four in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Seager’s five-RBI helped thaw Seattle’s offensive freeze for a day, even if the rest of his teammates still struggled at the plate. The Mariners didn’t manage a hit until the fourth inning, and they had only two hits after six innings.
But after scoring more than two runs only twice during their eight-game losing streak it represented a significant improvement.
Seager also hit a two-run homer in the seventh following a single from Justin Smoak.
Starter Chris Young responded from a rough start last week and kept the Mariners in the game until the offense woke up.
Young had five walks and allowed batters to reach base in each of the first four innings. But hit a groove in that fourth inning, particularly with his command, and ended up going seven innings.
He gave up three earned runs, struck out six and threw 113 pitches while largely saving an overtaxed bullpen. Young lasted only three innings and gave up four runs in his previous start.
“The first three innings, I was really mad at myself and disappointed and I dug the team in a hole,” Young said. “But the guys picked me up. It’s a character win for a our club.”
There was one brief scare. McClendon trotted out to the mound accompanied by the trainer after seeing Young shake his arm in the seventh inning. Young, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 before this season because of injuries, told McClendon he was fine. He was only shaking his arm because he was mad at the last pitch he threw.
Young did give up a solo homer to Chris Carter in the inning, but McClendon came away pleased from his 34-year-old starter.
“I thought he threw extremely well,” McClendon said.
And this time, the Mariners’ offense did its part, too. Robinson Cano and Corey Hart led of the ninth inning with singles, setting the stage for Seager to have his moment.