In four losses, Mariners pitching gave up 46 runs. In three wins, they gave up 10. But LF Ben Gamel and C Mike Zunino are raking as they never have.
The Mariners spent a grim part of the past week circling the drain (surrendering 46 runs in the road trip’s four losses), but Sunday snapped a three-game losing streak with a 7-3 win over Texas (box). The club had other good news: Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, both missing most of the year with shoulder injuries, will return for the weekend against AL West-leading Houston. According to manager Scott Servais, King Felix is firm to pitch Friday. The Mariners need him.
Monday (Mariners 14, Twins 3): At Target Field, DH Nelson Cruz drove in four runs, RF Mitch Haniger had four hits and 1B Danny Valencia and C Mike Zunino had homers back-to-back in the eighth. Tying a season high with 19 hits, Seattle improved to 32-33 to start a seven-game road trip.
Tuesday (Twins 20, Mariners 7): Eddie Rosario, batting ninth, hit three home runs and drove in five runs. The Twins set a franchise record with 28 hits while batting around in two innings. Starter Christian Bergman gave up nine runs on nine hits in 2.2 innings, and reliever Casey Lawrence gave up six runs in 3.2 innings.
Wednesday (Mariners 6, Twins 4): Zunino hit a three-run homer in the third inning, his fourth long ball against the Twins since June 7, and four relievers combined for 3.2 scoreless innings before Edwin Diaz ended the game with a four-out save.
Thursday (Twins 6, Mariners 2): Chris Gimenez homered twice in a game for the first time in his MLB career as Minnesota scored five times off Ariel Miranda in the first. Miranda lost for the first time in 10 starts, lasting four innings with 10 hits and six runs allowed.
Friday (Rangers 10, Mariners 4): Tyson Ross allowed two runs in his first start in 14 months and Carlos Gomez homered. James Paxton lost his second consecutive start, battered for seven runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings.
Saturday (Rangers 10, Mariners 4): Mike Napoli hit two home runs, a three-run shot in the first inning and a two-run blast in the sixth. The Mariners fell four games under .500 at 33-37.
Sunday (Mariners 7, Rangers 3): Pouncing on Yu Darvish in the first inning (3B Kyle Seager run-scoring double, Valencia two-run homer) for four runs, the Mariners salvaged a 3-4 road trip behind Bergman, who bounced back with 5.2 innings of two-run ball.
Seattle’s starting pitchers collectively had a horrific week, allowing 57 earned runs in 31.2 innings while getting only one quality start, from Yovani Gallardo Monday. A day later, the Twins shelled Bergman, then knocked Miranda around for six more. Even Paxton had a bleak outing, allowing seven earned in 3.2 innings in Texas (after starting the year 5-0, Paxton has dropped in his last two). Gallardo then followed his quality start by allowing five earned in the first inning Saturday.
The Mariners ended the week 13 games behind the Astros in the AL West, but only 2.5 out in the AL wild card race. After hitting .500 at 17-17, 30-30 and 31-31, the Mariners have yet to get above .500 this season.
Zunino is on a remarkable run — rampage might be more appropriate — since his recall from Tacoma May 22. He is batting .325 with 11 runs, five doubles, seven home runs and 24 RBIs. He has hit safely in 13 of his past 17 games, nine of them multi-hit efforts. On the road trip, Zunino had three multi-hit games. He had zero multi-hit games between April 3 and May 4, when the Mariners sent him to Tacoma. At that point, it appeared Zunino would never become a major league hitter.
Now look: He has 22 RBIs in June, a team record for catchers in a month (old mark 21, by Dan Wilson in April,1996), and the Mariners still have 10 games remaining.
Innings of the week
Mariners 8th Monday: The back-to-back homers by Valencia and Zunino were the fifth time for the feat by the Mariners this season. Zunino and Carlos Ruiz were the most recent pair to hit consecutive homers, also against the Twins last week during a 6-5 comeback victory.
Twins 3rd, Twins 7th Tuesday: Even with slugger Miguel Sano getting a night off, the Twins batted around in a seven-run third inning and a seven-run seventh to snap a five-game home skid. In the third, the Twins strung together eight consecutive hits, including back-to-back homers by Rosario and Brian Dozier.
Twins 1st Thursday: Miranda allowed two or fewer runs in six consecutive starts before he fell apart. To start the game, he allowed a double, threw a wild pitch, yielded a two-run homer and walked a batter. By the end of the inning, Minnesota had a 5-0 lead.
Rangers 3rd Friday: Sparked by Adrian Beltre’s two-run single, the Rangers scored five times off Paxton, who had mechanical problems in his delivery that put his pitches in the middle of the plate.
Rangers 1st Saturday: Gallardo (3-7) retired the first two Texas batters, then ceded five consecutive hits.
Good week/Bad week
Good: Hitting leadoff in place of injured SS Jean Segura, Gamel went 9-for-18 in four games at Minnesota, had a 1-for-2 day and scored three times Friday at Texas, and had two more hits Sunday. Bad: Bergman gave up nine runs on 10 hits in 2.2 innings Tuesday, while his replacement, Casey Lawrence, allowed six on 11 hits in 3.2 innings. Bergman rebounded for the win Sunday, but Lawrence was banished to Tacoma.
Not in the box score
“We just couldn’t stop them. They kept squaring it up and things got away from us. It happens. You can’t dwell on it too much. Got to put this one to bed, take a shower, wash it off.” — Servais after his club allowed Minnesota 28 hits
“I just had a bad day as far as stuff and command goes.” – Bergman, after allowing nine runs
“This is something that I only started about a month and a half ago, so I’m still trying to fine-tune everything — keep everything ironed out.” – Zunino, after hitting a three-run homer Wednesday
“We’ve got to get (Paxton) in a good spot, going in the right direction again. The last couple (of starts), he just hasn’t looked comfortable out there. Everything looks like a struggle.” – Servais, after the Rangers battered Paxton in his third start after returning from injury
“I’ve got to find a way to put guys away. It’s frustrating. I made some pretty good pitches.” – Gallardo, after giving up five runs in the first inning Saturday
Monday: Recalled RHP Casey Lawrence from AAA Tacoma, optioned RHP Emilio Pagan to the Rainiers; selected 1B/OF Evan White of the University of Kentucky No. 17l in the first round of the annual free agent draft.
Tuesday: Announced that Safeco Insurance would cede naming rights to Safeco Field following the 2018 season.
Wednesday: Recalled RHP Chase De Jong from Tacoma, optioned Lawrence back to the Rainiers; concluded the 2017 free agent draft with 40 picks, including 23 pitchers and 17 position players.
Friday: Recalled LHP Zac Curtis from AA Arkansas, optioned De Jong to Tacoma.
Saturday: Recalled RHP Rob Whalen from Tacoma, optioned Curtis to Arkansas; claimed RHP Pat Light off waivers from Pittsburgh, assigning him to Tacoma, and optioned RHP Ryne Harper to Tacoma.
Sunday: Selected RHP Max Povse from Arkansas. Optioned Whalen to Arkansas, designated LHP Dillon Overton for assignment.
The Mariners begin a nine-game home stand Monday with the first of four against the Detroit Tigers, starting RHP Sam Gaviglio (3-1, 3.41) against RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 9.00).. Seattle hosts AL West leader Houston, then the Philadelphia Phillies for a pair.