SEATTLE – Rebuild? Stepback season? Tim Beckham and Domingo Santana aren’t worrying about any of that. The newcomers continued stepping forward in impressive fashion in their fresh starts in Seattle as the Mariners rolled to a 12-4 runaway win over Red Sox ace Chris Sale and the defending World Series champs in Thursday’s home opener.
Beckham homered twice off Sale in his first two at-bats and Santana went 3-for-5 with a home run and double as Seattle belted five homers in front of a sellout crowd of 45,601 for a third straight win.
“A lot has been written about the direction we want to take this organization,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “A lot has been said, too, from people internally. We do like our team. It’s a different look to our team and I get that. It’s not the household names you’re used to seeing in our lineup, but these guys can play.”
Beckham came out swinging in Seattle’s two Opening Series wins over the A’s last week in Tokyo and continued carrying the torch in his first game at newly renamed T-Mobile Park, as he’s 7-for-12 with three homers and five RBIs in Seattle’s three wins.
Santana, acquired from the Brewers to play left field, already has nine RBIs and two home runs for his new club.
Though the Mariners aren’t expected to challenge this year after general manager Jerry Dipoto overhauled the roster in an effort to get younger and better served to make a push in 2020 and beyond, nobody seems to have told a club whose 25-man roster includes 12 players new to the organization this season.
With a lineup minus Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura and others, the Mariners have scored 26 runs with nine homers in jumping to a 3-0 start for just the fourth time in franchise history. Seattle has only previously won its first three games in 1985, ’95 and 2014, and its only 4-0 start came in 1985.
Beckham said the big-picture plans are not part of the club’s thinking.
“We’re ballplayers,” Beckham said. “We come to play a game at 7:05 or 4:10 tonight. We’re here between the white lines. It’s baseball and we’re expected to produce. When you’re in the lineup, productivity is expected. As far as the rebuild and everything else, we’ll leave that to the front office. That’s out of our control.”
That approach seems to be working just fine for the new group.
“Our guys all have something to prove,” Servais said. “Domingo Santana is a fine example. A couple years ago he had a big year. Last year he didn’t get much opportunity. He’s out to prove to people he can be an everyday player in this league.
“When we take the field, it’s about winning the ballgame. We’re not concerned about the future direction or re-imagination or all this other stuff. It’s about winning today’s game. That’s what the big leagues are about. We had a good day today, we’ll see what it leads into tomorrow.”
The Mariners also got a solo shot by Edwin Encarnacion off Sale in the third as the Red Sox’s prize lefty lasted just three innings while allowing seven runs on six hits and a pair of walks with four strikeouts.
It was only the ninth three-homer game of Sale's career – including the postseason -- and first since his postseason debut in Game 1 of the 2017 American League Division Series.
Ryon Healy had the Mariners’ other homer of the game in the fifth off reliever Hector Velazquez – his second of the season.
The 29-year-old Beckham signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Mariners, largely as a placeholder at shortstop until newly acquired J.P. Crawford is deemed ready to promote from Triple-A Tacoma. But the No. 1 overall Draft pick in 2008 by the Rays has served notice he’s ready to make his own mark with the Mariners.
“It’s a good feeling,” Beckham said. "No matter what team you’re on, you want to come out and play winning baseball. I’m here in Seattle with a great group of guys who love to compete. I love it. It fires me up. But as far as a good start? It’s three games into the season. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Beckham had been 0-for-15 with nine strikeouts in his career against Sale, but ripped a solo homer in the second and a two-run shot in the third as the Mariners jumped on the seven-time All-Star.
“I know the past history,” Beckham said. “I don’t care about that. He still has to come out and throw the ball. I respect him. He’s a really good pitcher, but I want to see something up in the zone I can handle. He threw me two good changeups before that and he normally gets me with the fastball up. I was looking for the one up and got a good pitch to hit.”
Beckham hit 48 homers in six previous seasons with the Rays and Orioles, including 12 last year while batting .230 with 35 RBIs in 96 games for Baltimore. He becomes the fifth player to homer twice in the same game off Sale, joining Josh Donaldson (2017), Miguel Cabrera and Eric Hosmer (’16) and Ryan Raburn (’15).
Santana, meanwhile, became the first player with game-winning RBIs in each of his team’s first three games of a season since Vladimir Guerrero with the Angels in 2007. Santana also broke Cano’s team record of seven RBIs in the first three games of a season.