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Haniger leads balanced Seattle attack vs. SF

Mariners right fielder stays hot, hits two-run single in big first inning
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dee Gordon hasn't been with the Mariners very long yet, but Seattle's new center fielder has seen enough of teammate Mitch Haniger, the man playing alongside him in right, to make a strong judgment.

"I didn't know much about him because he played in the Pacific Northwest," said Gordon, acquired from the Marlins this winter. "But a lot of people are going to know him this year. He's one of the good young players in the game. He can play baseball."

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Dee Gordon hasn't been with the Mariners very long yet, but Seattle's new center fielder has seen enough of teammate Mitch Haniger, the man playing alongside him in right, to make a strong judgment.

"I didn't know much about him because he played in the Pacific Northwest," said Gordon, acquired from the Marlins this winter. "But a lot of people are going to know him this year. He's one of the good young players in the game. He can play baseball."

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Haniger continued his red-hot start to the season with a bases-loaded, two-run single as the Mariners jumped on Giants lefty Ty Blach for four run in the first en route to a 6-4 win Tuesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

Even with three key offensive starters -- designated hitter Nelson Cruz, catcher Mike Zunino and left fielder Ben Gamel -- all on the 10-day disabled list, Seattle pounded out 12 hits while improving to 3-1.

The Mariners wasted no time spoiling the Giants' home opener as the first six Mariners reached base, with Haniger's two-run bases-loaded single the big blow. Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy also had run-scoring base hits before Blach -- who'd thrown five scoreless innings in an Opening Day outing against the Dodgers -- got out of the inning.

Video: SEA@SF: Seager extends lead with an RBI single

Seager, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, said this is the best Mariners offense he's seen in his eight seasons in Seattle.

"Without question, this is the best lineup we've thrown out there," Seager said. "We don't have Gamel right now, either, and he was leading the league in hitting for a while last year. You put him in there and Mike [Zunino] has the potential to hit 30, 40 homers. There's a lot of offense that isn't even here yet and we still feel we can go out there and compete and score runs."

That doesn't even include the absence of Cruz -- last year's American League RBI leader -- who went on the disabled list Tuesday with a sprained ankle. Haniger took his place at designated hitter the past two games and knocked in four RBIs of his own.

"Nelson is a hard void to fill and he's jumped in there real well," Seager said.

After taking two of three from the defending AL Central champion Indians and now opening with a win on the road, the Mariners are getting off to the quick start manager Scott Servais had been pushing for all spring.

This time they did it without benefit of the long ball, racking up 10 singles and two doubles and getting a pair of stolen bases from Gordon in his three-hit day atop the lineup. But finding different ways to win is why the Mariners went out and got the speedster to pair with Jean Segura atop the lineup, with Segura going 3-for-4 and scoring twice.

Video: SEA@SF: Gordon notches three hits, two steals

"You're going to have to [find different ways]," Servais said. "Obviously Cruz and Z are out right now. We still have guys that can drive it out of the park, but I liked the quality of at-bats and using the whole field."

Robinson Cano had an RBI double in the fifth and is batting 7-for-14 over the first four games, while Haniger is 6-for-13 with five RBIs, with Gordon (.412) and Segura (.375) also off to quick starts.

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

Seattle Mariners, Mitch Haniger