The Mariners used three home runs and another impressive start from journeyman pitcher Wade LeBlanc to beat the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles again, 5-2, Friday night at Safeco Field (box). LF Seth Smith, 3B Kyle Seager and 1B Dae-Ho Lee homered as Seattle (41-39) moved two games over .500 for the first time in 11 days.
In the sixth, Seager drilled an 0-2 pitch from Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman into the right-field stands for a no-doubt-about-it, two-run homer to go up 3-2. Lee added a mammoth two-run shot of his own two innings later.
LeBlanc turned in his second solid outing in as many starts with the Mariners. The lefty had his MLB-best scoreless streak of 24.2 innings snapped when Baltimore’s Chris Davis led off the second inning with a solo homer, but the Orioles scored just one more run off him. LeBlanc allowed three hits over six innings to get his first major league win since Sept. 23, 2014 at Oakland with the Angels, a span of 646 days.
Lefty Mike Montgomery did his job with a scoreless seventh. In the eighth, after looking at LeBlanc’s 88-mile-per-hour fastball for six innings, the Orioles had no chance against rookie Edwin Diaz’s 99-mph heater. He struck out three of the four he faced – 3B Manny Machado and 1B Chris Davis went down swinging – before closer Steve Cishek earned his second save in as many nights with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Seattle was one of the few teams to have an answer for Machado, an MVP candidate who went 0 for 4, ending his 10-game hitting streak.
In the last four games, the bullpen has combined to record 23 of 39 outs via strikeout (23 K, 13.0 IP).
Lee and Smith had three hits and a homer. Lee was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Seager’s homer, his 16th, was a well-timed dispatch of Gausman. Seattle had plenty of offense despite having stars 2B Robinson Cano and RF Nelson Cruz combine to go 1-for-8 with four strikeouts.
The Mariners have hit 59 home runs at home before the All-Star break, most in Safeco Field history (previous: 56 HR, 2000).
“When you see a pitcher that you haven’t really seen before, you don’t really know what he’s going to do. But you have to tip your cap to (LeBlanc). Plus, with Diaz striking out five of seven, you can tell why they like him so much.” — Buck Showalter, Orioles manager
“We’re capable of playing this way for an extended period of time. We saw that earlier in
the season. We talked about it (Thursday), and guys are getting after it.” – Mariners
manager Scott Servais
Felix Hernandez made another bullpen session Friday, his second of the week, and declared afterward that he will be “100 percent” healthy when he returns to the rotation after the All-Star break. Hernandez (strained calf) has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 1 but expects to be activated after the July 12 All-Star Game. Hernandez is likely to pitch in a simulated game during next week’s road trip, then a rehab start or two . . . Sunday, the Mariners will take their hacks against struggling Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez (5-7, 6.63 ERA), who has been so bad that the Orioles were considering taking him out of the rotation. Without a viable plan B, Baltimore announced Jimenez will start. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma will be on the mound for the Mariners . . . First-round pick Kyle Lewis, a centerfielder from Mercer University, was back in the starting lineup for the Everett AquaSox Friday night. Lewis missed two games while accepting the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to college baseball’s player of the year.
Will the real LHP James Paxton please stand up? The big left-hander with the big heater continues to tantalize, but has yet to find consistency as a big-league starter. Paxton (1-3, 4.15 ERA) gets another shot at 7 p.m. Saturday against Tyler Wilson (4-5, 4.50 ERA).