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M’s break out

Mon., April 16, 2007

SEATTLE – With introductions still in order two weeks into their season, two of the newest Seattle Mariners finally got acquainted with success at Safeco Field on Sunday.

Designated hitter Jose Vidro, facing the difficult task of learning a new league and a completely different role, homered in his first two at-bats, drove in four runs and finished with three hits. Starting pitcher Horacio Ramirez, the last player in the major leagues to appear in a game this season, held the Rangers to one earned run in six innings.

Those two, along with Ichiro Suzuki’s slump-breaking 4-for-5, three-RBI day and Adrian Beltre’s long-awaited display of April power, led the Mariners to a 14-6 victory over the Texas Rangers.

“I’ll take 14 runs any day,” said Ramirez, a left-hander who allowed two unearned runs in the first inning, then became the proud recipient of a breakout day by the Mariners’ offense.

Suzuki jump-started the Mariners with a leadoff home run in the first inning, then irritated the Rangers in every kind of manner. He singled in the second inning on the 13th pitch he saw from Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy, dropped a bunt single in the fourth and drove in a run with a single in the seventh. He also stole a base in the fourth inning, his 40th straight steal going back to last year, and the Mariners’ first this season.

Vidro raised his average 69 points to .212, hitting a solo homer in the first inning and a three-run jolt in the second, and also beat out an infield chopper in the fourth.

Beltre went 2 for 4, homered and drove in four runs, giving him two homers and 10 RBI this month after he’d homered once and driven in nine in April last year.

Kenji Johjima continued his hot start to the season, going 3 for 4 to lift his average to .475.

And the Mariners, who began the weekend series hitting .183 as a team, now have a .235 average.

“Guys are getting more comfortable and getting to play every day,” Beltre said.

“The whole team is doing good and hopefully we can keep it up.”

It helps that the Mariners are able to play every day. That was their excuse early, when four snowed-out games in Cleveland and a rainout in Boston limited them to two games in an eight-day period.

“It seems like now that we’re playing more, guys are swinging better at the plate,” Vidro said.

“It could be that. The first day we got back here we didn’t swing the bat good. But yesterday and today we did.”

Nobody had a better reason to be rusty than Ramirez, who started the snowed-out game in Cleveland on April 6 but had to wait until Sunday to pitch a game that counted.

The first inning was rough, when Sammy Sosa drove in two runs with a two-out liner that reached the left field wall so quickly that he got only a single out of it.

“That ball got out there in a hurry,” said Ramirez, who had faced Sosa in the National League when he pitched for the Braves. “A grown man hit that ball.”

The Mariners got those runs back in bottom of the first when Suzuki and Vidro homered, and Ramirez didn’t let the Rangers get back into the game.

He allowed four hits and one earned run the next five innings, and the Mariners added on offensively.

“After one of those big innings, it was important for me to go 1-2-3,” Ramirez said. “I was able to keep the momentum on our side. I was pretty pumped up about that.”

The Mariners scored four times in the second, Vidro’s homer accounting for three of them, and four in the fourth helped by two Rangers’ errors, plus run-scoring hits by Raul Ibanez and Johjima gave the M’s a 10-0 lead.

They added four more runs in the seventh on Suzuki’s RBI single and Beltre’s three-run homer.

Suzuki, who was hitting .182 after going 0 for 4 Friday, has five hits in his past nine at-bats to raise his average to .290.


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