Two outs, two strikes, so what? The Mariners’ seasonal start provided its most impressive moment when CF Leonys Martin beat the Oakland A’s with a two-run, walk-off home run in the ninth inning Tuesday. Martin crushed a 1-2 pitch over the right field fence for the 6-5 triumph.
Martin’s ninth homer of the season, a career high, was his most impressive as a Mariner. It was, in his words, “the best feeling I’ve had in baseball.” After teammate LF Norichika Aoki kept the Mariners alive with a two-out double down the left field line, Martin came to the plate against Oakland closer Ryan Madson and got a steady diet of change-ups. Martin fell behind 1-2 before crushing Madson’s fourth consecutive change-up 392 feet.
Mike Montgomery (2-0) earned a well-deserved win after pitching 3.1 scoreless
innings of relief. Montgomery gave up a two-run double to Oakland’s Coco Crisp after entering the game with the bases loaded in the sixth, but he was effective after that. Montgomery has been impressive filling in for injured Charlie Furbush, with a 1.67
ERA in 17 relief appearances this season.
Starter Nathan Karns nearly lost for the first time since April 9, when the A’s beat him in his Mariners debut, but he escaped with a no-decision. Karns was strong for five innings before giving up back-to- back singles to open the sixth.
Reliever Nick Vincent threw a match on that gas puddle, resulting in a 5-2 deficit before the comeback began.
2B Robinson Cano had another huge night, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and
three RBIs. His two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth pulled the Mariners to within 5-4. Aoki added a pair of hits. RF Seth Smith singled in each of his first three at-bats, scoring the first run on a Cano RBI double in the first, then Franklin Gutierrez came on to pinch-hit for him in the eighth and chipped in with a double.
“As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it was going to be gone. I crushed the ball.” – Martin
One day after helping the A’s score four unearned runs with a pair of eighth-inning errors, SS Chris Taylor was back on the bench Tuesday. Shawn O’Malley got the start as the Mariners continue to fill in for injured SS Ketel Marte. . . . Oakland has tabbed rookie RHP Zach Neal as Wednesday’s probable starter, replacing injured ace Sonny Gray. Neal will be making his first major league start . . . Coco Crisp’s third-inning homer was his fourth of the season and his second in five games played at Safeco Field this year. . . 2B Robinson Cano’s first-inning RBI was his 40th of the season. Cano didn’t have 40 RBIs last year until July 25 – in the 98th game. He added his 13th home run. He didn’t hit No. 13 of the 2015 season until Sept. 20.
Neal makes his first career start after a rough debut in a relief role earlier this month. The 27-year-old rookie should be an easier opponent than Gray, although the Mariners tagged
Oakland’s ace for seven runs when Gray faced Seattle earlier. Seattle counters with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-4, 4.39 ERA). He was the winning pitcher against Gray and the A’s in an 8-2 victory over Oakland May 3.