SEATTLE -- Dee Gordon, power-hitting center fielder?The Mariners' speedy new converted outfielder blasted a solo home run in the seventh, and Mitch Haniger followed with a two-run shot as Seattle pulled away for a 5-4 victory over the Indians to win the season-opening three-game series at Safeco Field.The 170-pound Gordon
SEATTLE -- Dee Gordon, power-hitting center fielder?
The Mariners' speedy new converted outfielder blasted a solo home run in the seventh, and Mitch Haniger followed with a two-run shot as Seattle pulled away for a 5-4 victory over the Indians to win the season-opening three-game series at Safeco Field.
The 170-pound Gordon hit just two home runs last season as a second baseman for Miami and had 11 homers in 713 Major League games coming into Sunday.
But there was Gordon, giving the Mariners a 3-2 lead in the seventh with a solo shot off reliever Dan Otero, sending the Safeco Field crowd into a frenzy.
"We acquired Dee Gordon because we knew he'd hit home runs," Mariners manager Scott Servais said, trying to maintain a straight face. "No, but Dee has a little pop on the down-and-in pitch and we saw that in Spring Training a couple times. He got to it today."
The energetic Gordon executed a little Ken Griffey Jr.-type pause and bat drop as the ball sailed over the fence and crossed home plate with a leaping high-five, much to the joy of the 24,506 fans in attendance, if not his manager.
"I'd never seen anybody jump that high after a home run. And we have issues after home runs here every once in a while," said Servais, who lost Nelson Cruz to a sprained ankle on Saturday after he slipped on the dugout stairs following a long ball. "But there's a lot of energy in our dugout, and it was a great way for us to start the season."
Gordon did want to make it clear he wasn't looking to emulate anyone with his home run swing, noting that you shouldn't be playing if you can't get caught up in the excitement of a go-ahead blast against the team with the best record in the American League last year.
"Man, I don't hit enough homers to be trying to do stuff when I hit 'em," he said. "Whatever happened, happened."
What happened next was a base hit by Robinson Cano, followed by Haniger's second blast of the young season, which gave Seattle just enough cushion to absorb Edwin Encarnacion's own two-run shot -- his second homer of the game -- in the top of the eighth.
That made a winner out of Mike Leake, who allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings, before Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.
Gordon also made an outstanding catch in center field in the third inning and by his last at-bat in the ninth, the fans were chanting "Gor-don, Gor-don."
"He's a very athletic player and you're going to see a lot of that this year," Servais said. "The high energy he brings, the crowd and our fans are really going to be able to connect and jump on board with him."
But as Gordon packed his bags for the team's first road trip, he set his ego to the side.
"That's all good, but I'm not here for that," Gordon said. "I'm just here for these guys. I'm not trying to be the man here or nothing. I just want to be a piece among some really good pieces."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Doubling down: The Mariners finally got to Indians starter Trevor Bauer in the fifth with three doubles to tie the game at 2. Backup catcher David Freitas, making his first start after being recalled following Mike Zunino's oblique injury, led things off with a two-bagger to center for his first hit as a Mariner. Jean Segura drove him home with a sharp one-out double to right and Kyle Seager drove a high chopper over first baseman Yonder Alonso's head that scooted down the right-field line as Segura raced home. Seager's ball had just a 9 percent hit probability, per Statcast™, but he'll take it after an 0-for-8 start to the season that included a bases-loaded strikeout in the third.
"It's about time we got a good hop," Servais said. "We've had a few bad hops go our way with the injuries and everything else. I'd like to say they all even out, but once in a while you have to be a little lucky. That new infield [surface], it's working in our favor so far."
Haniger drops the hammer: After a rough spring, the Mariners right fielder is off to a blazing start, and his two-run blast off Tyler Olson proved to be the game-winner. Haniger's 403-foot blast was his second in three games, making him 5-for-8 with a double and three RBIs as well. He also reached base on a walk and hit batter on Sunday.
"He's a bad man," Gordon said. "They're going to know him by the end of the year."
"Heckuva series by our guys, a little undermanned here without [Zunino] and Nelson [Cruz] today. Cleveland has outstanding pitching, and I thought our guys matched them. It was a fun weekend. Nice way to start the season. The fans were definitely into it, and we felt the energy all weekend. It was a good start for us." -- Servais, on taking two of three from the defending AL Central champion Indians
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cano's first-inning double -- his second of the season -- moved him into a tie with his hitting coach, Edgar Martinez, for 53rd place on MLB's all-time list with 514. He needs one more to jump another spot to tie Hall of Famer Joe Cronin and is just nine away from tying Willie Mays for 47th and 10 from catching up with Griffey in 46th place.
GORDON FLASHES HIS DEE-FENSE
Gordon figures to hit some hiccups in his transition to center field this season for the Mariners, but the former National League Gold Glove second baseman is showing his range already and made a nice sliding catch in the third inning to steal a hit from Jason Kipnis. The play was rated a three-star catch by Statcast™, with a catch probability of just 52 percent as Gordon covered 76 feet in 4.5 seconds to make the play without needing to hit his normal top-end sprint speed.
"That was my first-ever sliding catch, so that was pretty cool," Gordon said. "I'm just going to try to get better every day and do what they have me here to do, which is play defense and offense."
After an off-day Monday, Marco Gonzales makes his season debut Tuesday at 1:35 p.m. PT in San Francisco when the Mariners open their first road trip. The 26-year-old lefty had a strong spring to lock down the Mariners' No. 4 starter spot. Gonzales lost to the Giants on July 1, 2014, in the second start of his MLB career with the Cardinals, but hasn't faced them since.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB