Considered a bust only five months ago, in fact all but written off by GM Jack Zduriencik, Jesus Montero made the first start of his major league career at first base Tuesday and muscled a two-run homer in the second inning that sent Roenis Elias and the Mariners on their way to a 6-1 win over the feeble San Diego Padres at Safeco Field.
“It was good to see,” said manager Lloyd McClendon after the Mariners won their third straight following a five-game losing streak. “He’s had some obstacles along the way, as we all know, but he’s making amends and trying to come back and do things the right way.”
After former Mariner Rene Rivera (2004-06) gave San Diego a 1-0 lead, Montero jumped on an Eric Stults slider and mashed it over the wall in left, scoring Cole Gillespie, who had reached on an error. It was Montero’s first home run in more than a year and was really all that Elias (6-5, 3.91) and the Mariners required to dispose of their so-called “natural” rivals.
“It’s been a long time coming and it’s a great feeling to help the Mariners win,” said Montero. “I feel so happy to be here and I just want to hit the ball hard. We’re all human, but I feel better after I hit the homer. I want to be able to help this team win, that’s what i care about.”
Many contributed to Seattle’s 10th win in 16 games and eighth consecutive triumph in day contests. Robinson Cano hit two-run homer in the fifth, Kyle Seager added a bases-loaded double in the seventh, Elias rebounded nicely from a 6-3 loss to the Yankees, and rookie James Jones continued to impress at the top of the order.
Elias didn’t have much to fear from the Padres, who entered the game batting .211 on the road, worst in the majors. He allowed three hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks, his only mistake the solo homer to Rivera. Otherwise, the Padres mounted nothing against his fastball and curve.
“I think he had real good command of those pitches and the changeup came around as well,” said McClendon. “He pitched really well for us. I’ll take that.”
Cano’s home run, which doubled Seattle’s lead in the fifth, was his fourth of the season and second this season at Safeco Field.
“Robbie really gave us a big lift with that,” said McClendon, whose club improved to 4-3 in interleague play with two more due up at San Diego over the next two days.
“I was just trying to hit a fly ball deep there so he (Jones) could score,” said Cano. “You try to make contact and not try to do too much.”
Jones went 3-for-5 (10th multi-hit game), stole a base and scored a run. The three-hit game was Jones’ second of the season and the stolen base his 11th, tops among American League rookies. He is batting .349 over his last 10 games.
The beatdown could have been worse. After Montero homered for a 2-1 lead, Brad Miller and Jones singled, but Stefan Romero and Cano both grounded out, wiping out what could have been a big inning. After Seager’s two-run double in the seventh, the Mariners loaded the bases again, but Gillespie hit into a fielder’s choice.
NOTES: The three-hit game was the second of the season for Jones, who had his first June 9 vs. Tampa Bay . . . Jones has recorded at least one hit in 29 of 36 games to start his career . . . The 11 steals by Jones are the most by a Seattle rookie since Jeremy Reed had 12 in 2005 . . . Montero’s home run was his first since May 8, 2013 off A.J. Burnett at Pittsburgh . . . Elias has won three of his four starts in June, going 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA. He has pitched seven innings five times this season . . . Since May 10, Cano is hitting .372 with nine doubles, three home runs and 20 RBIs . . . Stefan Romero’s ground-rule double in the seventh snapped an 0-for-18 slide.
NEXT: The Mariners and Padres play the first of two in San Diego Wednesday. Felix Hernandez (8-2, 2.29) will contest RHP Andrew Cashner (2-6, 2.47). After closing out against San Diego Tbursday, the Mariners head to Kansas City for a three-game weekend series with the Royals.