PHOENIX -- Mitch Haniger (Meetch) returned to the site of his MLB debut on Friday night, and the Mariners outfielder quickly made himself feel at home.Haniger recorded hits in each of his first three at-bats, finishing 3-for-5 with a home run to power Seattle's offense in a 6-3 win over
PHOENIX -- Mitch Haniger (Meetch) returned to the site of his MLB debut on Friday night, and the Mariners outfielder quickly made himself feel at home.
Haniger recorded hits in each of his first three at-bats, finishing 3-for-5 with a home run to power Seattle's offense in a 6-3 win over the D-backs in the opener of Players' Weekend at Chase Field. Edwin Diaz (Sugar) pitched a perfect ninth for his 49th save, breaking the Mariners' single-season record of 48 set by Fernando Rodney in 2014.
After Haniger led off the game with a single, he singled again in the third and later scored on a Jean Segura (El Mambo) single, part of a four-run rally. Haniger opened the fifth with a homer, his 21st of the season, off D-backs starter Zack Godley (Bull) to give the Mariners a 5-0 lead.
• Shop for Players' Weekend gear
"I feel good, I feel comfortable, definitely familiar with it, so that helps," said Haniger, who played at Chase Field for the first time since being traded to the Mariners in November 2016. "You always want to do well against every team, and especially the team who traded you. But at the same time, just keep everything the same and approach it like any other game."
:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
Haniger made his MLB debut for the D-backs on Aug. 16, 2016, against the Mets, also collecting his first pair of hits. He also hit his first career home run at Chase Field, on Sept. 12, 2016, against the Rockies.
Haniger has raked in August, going 33-for-91 (.363) in 22 games. He has a hit in 19 of his last 23 games, including 10 multi-hit games, seven of which have come in his last 15 contests.
"I feel good, just trying to have good at-bats and swing at good pitches, hit the ball hard, that's the goal all year," Haniger said. "It doesn't really change."
Mike Zunino (Z) also homered for the Mariners, who kept pace in the American League West and the AL Wild Card races. Seattle is 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Astros in the AL West and four games behind the A's for the second Wild Card spot.
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez (Mito) tossed six innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Ramirez, who notched his first win since Aug. 18, 2017, has a 1.13 ERA in three starts since returning from a three-month stint on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury.
"He's been pretty consistent since he's been back, he keeps us right there in the ballgame," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "He's sinking the ball, he's got a cutter, the changeup is very good. It's a pitcher's advantage sometimes when you're facing a team that doesn't really know you that well. He made some good pitches against the middle of their lineup, which has been very hot."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Mariners strike first: Seattle used the four-run rally in the third to provide an early cushion for Ramirez. Dee Gordon (Varis) opened the scoring when he smacked a leadoff double, stole third and scored on a throwing error by Godley on the steal. After Ramirez struck out, the Mariners had four straight hits, beginning with Haniger's one-out single. Segura, Denard Span (D-Span) and Kyle Seager all drove in runs.
"We got it going, we strung some hits together and we needed it," Servais said. "We haven't had a really big inning like that, to keep the line moving, in quite some time. Good to see that kind of offensive rhythm."
Diaz is on pace for 56 saves, a total reached only twice previously: Bobby Thigpen saved 57 for the White Sox in 1990, and Francisco Rodriguez set the current MLB record with 62 for the Angels in 2008.
HE SAID IT
"Unbelievable, his stuff is electric. It's fun to play behind, although you may not get too much action in the outfield with how many guys he strikes out. Every time he grabs the ball, the game's over." -- Haniger, on Diaz
Wade LeBlanc (7-3, 4.04 ERA) gets the start when the series against the D-backs resumes on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. PT at Chase Field. Last time out, LeBlanc gave up seven runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on Aug. 17. The left-hander is 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA in 13 career games (nine starts) vs. Arizona. Fellow southpaw Robbie Ray (3-2, 4.91) is set to start for the D-backs.
Jake Rill is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in Phoenix.