Seager, Murphy lead Seattle to verge of sweep

Red-hot duo both hit a homer as Mariners win fourth straight game

August 21st, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- There were no dugout cartwheels on Tuesday night, no double back-to-back home run feats and no balls helped over the wall by the defense. But that doesn’t mean and didn’t still have a good time.

“Those guys are really locked in right now,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said, “and it’s just fun to watch.”

In an evolving theme this summer, the duo powered the Mariners’ offense, adding a home run apiece and five RBIs between them as Seattle claimed at least a series win against Tampa Bay with a 7-4 victory at Tropicana Field.

“It’s a number of guys contributing, but offensively, it’s been very consistent,” Servais said. “Love the energy around the team right now. Guys are really pulling for each other. They’re coming in early, they’re working, they’re enjoying, you know, going through the daily process, and that’s hard to do in August.”

The Mariners, who stretched their win streak to four and moved to 14-4 in their past 18 games at Tropicana Field, were swept by the Rays in a three-game series from Aug. 9-11 at T-Mobile Park. Seattle will look to return the favor during Wednesday’s matinee finale and wrap up its nine-game road swing on a high note.

After a rocky start to his season, Seager has put everything into finishing strong. Tuesday night brought more of the same as the Mariners’ third baseman extended his hit streak to 14 games -- the club’s longest of the season -- and got the offense moving early with a two-out, two-run home run in the first inning.

While Seager’s shot didn’t stand as the difference-maker, it represented the continuation of a hot streak. The 31-year-old has come a long way since offseason surgery turned into a two-month stint on the injured list with a left hand injury, which evolved into a slump that saw him hit .219 in June and .220 in July.

But Seager’s confidence never wavered, and he has regained his sweet stroke in August. He is slashing .345/.424/.810 this month, and he has collected eight home runs, three doubles and 17 RBIs through 16 August games.

Seager circled back around with an RBI double in the seventh for the final margin.

“I think having some success kind of validates [the winter] for me,” Seager said. “I had to clear some things up, bodywise; had some things going on that were preventing this. … And just listening to [hitting coach Tim] Laker and getting in the cage with him has been awesome for me.”

Murphy clubbed two homers against Tampa Bay on Monday night and added another Tuesday to extend his hitting streak to eight games. The catcher’s two-run jack in the sixth frame gave the Mariners the lead for good after the Rays scored two each in the second and fourth innings against bulk pitcher Tommy Milone. The lefty managed to right his own ship quickly despite the rocky beginning, rebounding to retire nine of the last 10 hitters he faced. He earned his third win of the season for his efforts, allowing four runs on six hits over five innings of relief.

With his homer on Tuesday, Murphy became the first catcher in franchise history to go deep in four consecutive games. He is the second catcher this season to do so, along with the Astros’ Robinson Chirinos. The 28-year-old Mariner has six home runs during the streak.

Murphy made a name for himself early with the amount of preparation and hard work he has put into every aspect of his season. When it comes down to stepping into the box, though, he said he has the most success when he keeps things simple.

“It’s honestly nothing different; it’s just staying within the strike zone,” Murphy said. “As long as I can do that, I feel like I can be successful.”

Murphy (16) and Seager (17) are two of a club-record eight Mariners to have at least 15 home runs in the same season, joining Daniel Vogelbach (27), Domingo Santana (21), Edwin Encarnacion (21), Omar Narvaez (17), Mitch Haniger (15) and Tim Beckham (15). Seattle has hit 114 homers on the road, third most in the Majors.