Whatever is going on with the air, water and culture of Detroit, the Mariners are happy to have more helpings.
After getting 15 hits Tuesday in a 7-4 win at Comerica Park, the Mariners had another 15 Wednesday to thrash the Tigers 9-1.
The Mariners (9-10) started the trip with the second-weakest offense in the American League and losers of five of the previous six, but have come alive against the Central Division co-leaders (10-8). The Mariners have won five in a row over two seasons against Detroit and seek a sweep of the series at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The beneficiary was Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, who settled down after a shaky first inning (28 pitches, 10 strikes and a career-first three walks in an inning) to cruise through a potent lineup for his ninth consecutive win over the Tigers.
The support was in contrast to his previous outing, in which Hernandez pitched eight shutout innings, only to see the Mariners lose 2-1.
Dustin Ackley, hitting leadoff for the first time this season, responded with three hits, as did rookie Jesus Montero, who caught Hernandez for the first time. Ichiro also had three hits and Michael Saunders two, as did Alex Liddi, starting at third base. For the second night in a row, Liddi had a home run, a 400-foot monster to left field.
Ackley’s two-run single in the second inning provided a 3-0 lead, and a fourth run came in on a sacrifice fly from Brendan Ryan.
In the third, Liddi’s epic, two-run sock pushed the lead to 6-0. Ackley in the fifth doubled home another run. Liddi in the sixth singled for an 8-1 lead, after which Saunders was given a bases loaded walk.
“The overall quality of our at-bats is better,” said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. “We’re getting an idea of what these guys can do for us. Guys are figuring out what their zone is and what pitch is good to hit.
“Ot was a tough week prior to this, but guys come out with energy every day. We’ve been getting people on bases, but finishing off is what we’re doing. When all said done this year, ell have a much better hitting club.”
Hernandez didn’t get his first strikeout until fanning Prince Fielder in the sixth. He finished with 92 pitches and four hits in seven innings. A homer by Detroit’s Brandon Bosch in the third ended a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings.
“Felix really had to fight through the first inning,” Wedge said. “They made him work, and he never gave in. His last three innings were a lot better than his first four.”