Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Mariners News

Mariners stunned by Sox after early HR barrage

Seattle belts 3 long balls, but 5-run lead doesn't hold up
@gregjohnsmlb
March 30, 2019

SEATTLE -- What’s in a name change? For the Mariners and their new T-Mobile Park moniker, a whole lot of homers, apparently. The former Safeco Field was always regarded as a pitcher-friendly stadium, particularly in the chilly early spring months of the season. But the Mariners found out the long

SEATTLE -- What’s in a name change? For the Mariners and their new T-Mobile Park moniker, a whole lot of homers, apparently.

The former Safeco Field was always regarded as a pitcher-friendly stadium, particularly in the chilly early spring months of the season. But the Mariners found out the long ball can cut both ways in a 7-6 loss on Friday, as they clubbed three solo home runs in the first two innings off Nathan Eovaldi, only to see the Red Sox rally from a 6-1 deficit with four blasts of their own.

Mitch Moreland’s three-run shot in the ninth off new closer Hunter Strickland prevented the Mariners from just their second 4-0 start in franchise history. The late blow also took a win away from rookie Yusei Kikuchi, who turned a 6-3 lead over to the bullpen after six strong innings of four-hit ball.

Strickland, who saved both of Seattle’s wins in Tokyo last week, acknowledged he felt tightness in the back of his shoulder and couldn’t locate his slider or fastball, but tried to pitch through it even after manager Scott Servais and athletic trainer Rob Nodine came to the mound to check on him one batter before Moreland’s blast.

“I was all over the place. Everybody saw it. It wasn’t good at all,” Strickland said. “I just wasn’t comfortable, but that’s no excuse. I still have to make pitches, regardless. I don’t know what’s going on. I felt some tightness and we’ll evaluate it and go from there.”

Servais, just getting to know his new closer, chose to stick with him after the mound visit even with lefty Roenis Elias warming in the ‘pen after Rafael Devers led off with a double and Blake Swihart was hit by a pitch.

Strickland got an out at the plate when first baseman Ryon Healy threw home to get Devers on a grounder by Jackie Bradley Jr., but Moreland crushed a 2-0 fastball into the right-field seats.

“He was a little tight, had a tough time getting loose in the ‘pen,” Servais said. “We’ll have the doctors take a look at him tonight. But we went to the mound and talked to him and he said, ‘I’m fine. I’ll get through it. I’m going to get these guys out.’ And obviously it didn’t work out for him.”

Strickland wasn’t second-guessing his decision to stay in, just saying he threw a bad pitch to a good hitter.

“You never feel tip-top every day, anyway,” he said. “It’s just part of the job and I didn’t get it done today. It’s something I’ve got to get better at. [Moreland] is a good hitter and I left it in the middle. He capitalized, obviously. However you feel, you’ve still got to make pitches. And I didn’t do that.”

The loss took away from an impressive early power show by the Mariners, who have slugged eight homers in their first two home games and 12 in four games overall, including a pair of wins over the A’s in the Tokyo Dome last week.

Domingo Santana, who took Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg deep on Thursday and hit a grand slam off the A’s Mike Fiers in Japan, launched his third homer of the season in the first inning on Friday, but only after Mallex Smith had led off with a home run of his own.

Catcher Omar Narváez added another homer on a line drive just over the fence down the right-field line in the second as the Mariners racked up their eighth home run in their first 10 innings of the series against the Red Sox.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Santana has 10 RBIs in his first four games. He was acquired from the Brewers in exchange for outfielder Ben Gamel, who totaled one homer and 19 RBIs in 101 games for Seattle last year.

Smith came to Seattle in a trade with the Rays to play center field and lead off, with home runs not part of the equation. The 25-year-old speedster totaled just two long balls in 141 games last season for Tampa Bay.

Narvaez is another newcomer on a team in transition, with 13 of the 25 players on the Major League roster in their first season with Seattle. He’d gone 0-for-9 before ripping his first hit for a home run, the 13th of his Major League career in 224 games.

Mariners slugging at historic clip
The 12 home runs are the second-most in the first four games in franchise history behind only 13 in 1998 when they were in the Kingdome. Additionally, Tim Beckham, Ryon Healy and Santana each have an extra-base hit in each of the first four games, something only three Mariners -- Phil Bradley in 1985, Ken Griffey Jr. in ‘97 and David Segui in ‘98 -- had ever achieved.

“The ball has been carrying,” Servais said. “But those balls are well struck. They’re not any cheapies, by any means. The state of the game, guys are up there looking for certain pitches in certain spots and if they get them, they’re strong enough and are driving the ball really well.

“Hopefully we can keep a few more in the park on the defensive side. But we’ve certainly hit our share of homers and I think that’s what you’re seeing all over the league right now.”

Up next
Veteran right-hander Mike Leake makes his season debut against Red Sox southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game at T-Mobile Park. Leake is one of just three MLB pitchers -- along with Jon Lester and Max Scherzer -- to make 30-plus starts for the past seven seasons. He’s 1-3 with a 5.30 ERA in six career starts vs. Boston, but threw eight shutout innings in the most recent, a win last June in Fenway.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.