If Safeco Field was a mile high, perhaps the Mariners offense would average the nearly seven runs they scored a game in their series sweep of the Colorado Rockies (15-25) over the weekend.
Seattle (19-24) capped its offensive outburst Sunday at Coors Field by smashing three home runs before the recently maligned closer, Brandon League, held on for a 6-4 win.
Plagued by early season struggles at the plate, Justin Smoak finished a road trip, in which he hit .351, with a solo home run and RBI single against Colorado’s Jeremy Guthrie (2-2, 5.55 ERA). Smoak lifted his average nearly 40 points during Seattle’s 11-day, 10-game swing through four cities.
“We’re swinging the bats well right now,” Smoak, now hitting .218, said in a post-game interview with ROOT Sports. ”We feel like we have the last week. We’ve hit balls hard right at people and today was just one of those days where things fell. It’s always good to hit the ball in the air here in Denver.”
After a successful double steal netted the Mariners a 1-o lead in the first, Smoak added a run by jumping on a hanging curveball into center field for an RBI single. In the third, he followed a Jesus Montero two-run shot with a towering solo home run into the right field seats to give the Mariners a 5-1 lead.
“I was thinking fastball and I got a fastball middle-in and up a little bit and I put a good swing on it,” Smoak said.
Seattle leaned on Blake Beavan (2-4, 4.46 ERA) from there, as the 6-foot-7 Texan struck out a career-high seven Rockies in five innings of seven-hit, two-run ball. Manager Eric Wedge pulled Beavan after he yielded a leadoff double to Michael Cuddyer in the sixth.
“I felt like he was up in the zone a little bit and wasn’t able to execute pitches in particular with his fastball like he’s so good at,” Wedge said of his decision to pull his starter.
From there, Shawn Kelley, Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen then combined to throw three innings of shutout work while striking out five. Mike Carp, who entered the game well below the Mendoza Line, tacked on to Seattle’s 5-2 lead by blasting a hanging curveball into Coors Field’s second deck.
Still leading 6-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, Wedge opted to go to League to close out the series. After recording the first out, he promptly surrendered a solo home run to Dexter Fowler. Eric Young Jr. and Jason Giambi followed with back-to-back singles. With the tying run at the plate, Carlos Gonzalez followed with an RBI to cut the lead to 6-4.
League then induced a fielder’s choice from Troy Tulowitzki for the second out. Facing Todd Helton with runners on the corner, League escaped by striking out the seasoned lefty with a 97 mph fastball to end the game.
The Mariners start a six-game homestand against the first-place Texas Rangers Monday night. The pitching matchup draws a pair of aces — Felix Hernandez (3-3, 3.02 ERA) against Yu Darvish (6-1, 2.60 ERA).