HOUSTON — The postgame music wasn’t any louder. There was no additional yelling in the clubhouse or extra celebrations.
It may seem strange, but this—winning—is expected. This is the 2014 Mariners.
Seattle capped a series sweep of the Houston Astros on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, getting yet another outstanding start from Chris Young and rallying from a 2-0 deficit with a four-run sixth inning en route to a 5-2 win.
With the win, the Mariners won their fourth straight game and have won 10 of their last 12 games to improve to 47-38. It’s the first time a Mariners’ team has been nine games over .500 since the end of the 2007 season.
But there was no overwhelming giddiness because of the win or the sweep. It’s part of the attitude that was pushed by manager Lloyd McClendon in spring training, tested by an early eight-game losing streak and forged by surprising runs of success where they’ve found ways to win games they shouldn’t.
It’s a businesslike confidence and the ability to move on each day that hasn’t been evident in the organization in quite some time.
“We’re an even-keeled group,” Young said. “The highs aren’t too high and the lows aren’t too low. We’ve been through an eight-game losing streak and I don’t know what our winning streaks have been and I don’t think anybody cares. We know it’s a long season and there’s a long way to go. We still have a lot to prove and we haven’t played our best baseball yet.”
And yet they’ve had success, which is surprising to many, but not to them. They believe they’re a good team and they’ve earned it.
“I think you are seeing day in and day out what we are capable of doing.” said Dustin Ackley, who had three hits in the game. “I don’t think you can say it’s a fluke anymore. I think everybody is starting to see that this is what we are capable of doing.”
For the second straight day, the Mariners broke the game open in the sixth inning. On Tuesday, they scored seven runs on six-straight run-scoring hits.
Wednesday’s sixth inning was sort of a surprise since there were no signs of offense from the Mariners prior. The Astros were up 2-0 and their starter Brad Peacock had cruised through five shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out five batters.
“Early on we were pretty flat,” McClendon said.
But it all started to unravel with one out in the top of the sixth. James Jones singled to right. Peacock then hit Robinson Cano in the back of the leg with a pitch and walked Kyle Seager, throwing several pitches in the dirt well in front of the plate. That trend continued with bases loaded and Logan Morrison at bat. One of those dirt balls finally bounced past catcher Carlos Corporan all the way to the backstop, allowing Jones to score on a wild pitch.
Peacock made an adjustment and stopped spiking his pitches in the dirt. Unfortunately, it meant he left them out over the plate. Morrison took advantage, doubling down the right field line to score two runs and give the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
“You want to be aggressive in that situation, but obviously aggressive in the zone,” Morrison said. “The pitches weren’t really that close to the zone, so they were really that hard to take. And then when you get into a plus count, you are looking to do damage. For me, I was looking for a fastball because he wasn’t throwing many strikes in that inning and was losing it. I was looking for a fastball right down the middle. I was able to get one and put it in the hole.”
John Buck followed with an RBI single to score Morrison and end Peacock’s outing.
A 4-2 lead was plenty for Young. The veteran right-hander turned in one of his best starts of the season, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs on two hits with a walk and season-high eight strikeouts.
“I don’t know where we would be without him,” McClendon said. “He’s done a tremendous job for us and today was no different. It was a quality start from start to finish. He gave us an opportunity.
The two hits were solo homers.
Marwin Gonzales hit one in the third inning and Kike’ Hernandez added one in the fifth. Otherwise, Young was flawless, getting his usual mix of off balance swings and pop fly outs to improve to 8-4 on the season.
“I felt for the most part I made very good pitches,” Young said. “I kept them off balance, really had two good off-speed pitches today and good fastball command. I was pleased. There are going to be days you give up home runs and you hope they don’t beat you. The guys came back and picked me up and the credit goes to them.”
Kyle Seager stretched the lead to 5-2 with an RBI single in the seventh inning.
The Mariners bullpen closed out the game. Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina worked a scoreless eighth inning and Fernando Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his 24th save of the season.
M’s 12, Astros 3
Seager homered and drove in three runs to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 13-2 victory over the Houston Astros Tuesday in the second of three games from Minute Maid Park.
Cano also brought in three runs and James Jones supplied three hits, three runs scored and two RBI for the Mariners, who have won three straight and nine of their last 11.
Starter Hisashi Iwakuma (6-4) surrendered just one run on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts to notch the win.
Matt Dominguez and Enrique Hernandez each drove in a run for Houston, which has lost three of its last four.
The Mariners opened the scoring in the first. Cosart walked Endy Chavez and Jones singled to left before Cano’s RBI base hit and Seager’s groundout made it a 2-0 game.
In the bottom half, Dominguez’s RBI single to center with runners on the corners and two outs cut the deficit in half.
Jones’ two-out base hit to left in the second scored Dustin Ackley from third to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead.
Seattle put the game out of reach with a seven-run sixth inning. Cano’s double to left brought in two runs and chased Cosart. Darin Downs took the mound and served up RBI doubles to Seager, Logan Morrison, Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley around a run-scoring single from Michael Saunders, pushing the Mariners advantage to a 10-1 score.