May 10, 2010 in Sports

Change good for Mariners

New hitting coach sees offense come to life as eight-game skid ends
Mason Kelley Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Michael Saunders rounds second after hitting his first major league home run.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)


Tuesday: Seattle at Baltimore, 4:05 p.m.


SEATTLE – When Alonzo Powell met the media before Sunday’s game against Los Angeles, the Seattle Mariners’ new hitting coach said he wanted his hitters to keep it simple.

He had just driven up from Tacoma after he received the news that Alan Cockrell had been relieved of his duties, so it didn’t give Powell much time to work with the team. On Day 1 he simply wanted to encourage Seattle hitters to go out, have fun and enjoy their at-bats.

With Seattle riding an eight-game losing streak, it was a pair of players Powell worked with at Class AAA Tacoma who did just that, providing the spark that carried the Mariners past the Angels, 8-1, in front of 28,668.

It started with shortstop Josh Wilson, who went 3 for 3 and fell a double short of the cycle. It continued with Michael Saunders, who hit his first major league home run and helped the Mariners hit back-to-back homers for the first time this season. It was the first time in nine games Seattle has scored more than three runs.

“I think I’m taking it with me to Baltimore,” Wilson jokingly said when asked about the pink bat he used in support of breast cancer awareness. “That thing’s got some kind of magic in it.”

The duo combined to drive in five of the Mariners’ eight runs – four in the fourth – helping them avoid being swept in a homestand lasting longer than four games for the first time in franchise history.

“To get my first one today is really special,” said Saunders, who hit the home run with his mother, Jane, in the stands on Mother’s Day. Jane Saunders has been battling cancer since her son was about 11 years old. He wasn’t able to use a pink bat– they didn’t arrive in time– but he made sure his mother got the home-run ball.

“She’s been through a lot for the last 11 or 12 years, battling cancer and everything,” he said. “Not only was it a special moment for me with my first home run, but more special that she was actually here with a chance to see it.”

The bottom third of the order finished 6 for 11 and the M’s were 6 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

After working nine walks on Saturday, the Mariners didn’t draw their first base on balls until Ken Griffey Jr. and Ryan Langerhans drew back-to-back free passes with two outs in the fourth. Seattle finished the game with seven.

With two on and two out, Wilson ignited the spark that carried Seattle’s offense. He smacked a three-run homer to left field, which Saunders followed with a solo shot to center.

“We came out swinging the bats and turned things around a little bit, put some runs on the board,” starter Jason Vargas said. “It’s obvious that we haven’t been scoring as much as we want, but, like I said before, we’re going to score. The hitters were just going through a rough time.”

While the Mariners finally found some power, Vargas put together another impressive outing. He gave up four hits and one unearned run over 7 1/3 innings, improving to 3-2 on the season.

Mariners 8, Angels 1

Los Angeles ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
E.Aybar ss 401001.248
B.Abreu rf 401001.266
K.Morales 1b 300011.287
J.Rivera lf 401001.245
H.Kendrick 2b 400002.263
Napoli c 401001.221
B.Wood 3b 401000.172
Quinlan dh 300001.000
M.Ryan ph 100000.333
Willits cf 110010.150
Totals 3215028
I.Suzuki rf 513000.326
Figgins 2b 400011.185
F.Gutierrez cf 301221.322
Jo.Lopez 3b 502001.222
Griffey Jr. dh 310010.208
Langerhans 1b 220020.100
Jo.Wilson ss 323310.286
M.Saunders lf 422200.500
Moore c 401103.170
Totals 33812876
Los Angeles 000000010—151
Seattle 00041003x—8121

E—B.Abreu (2), Jo.Wilson (3). LOB—Los Angeles 7, Seattle 8. 2B—Napoli (4), F.Gutierrez (5), Jo.Lopez (6). 3B—Jo.Wilson (1). HR—Jo.Wilson (1), off E.Santana; M.Saunders (1), off E.Santana. RBIs—F.Gutierrez 2 (18), Jo.Wilson 3 (4), M.Saunders 2 (2), Moore (3). SB—I.Suzuki 3 (9), Langerhans (1). S—Willits. RLISP—Los Angeles 4 (E.Aybar, B.Wood, J.Rivera, M.Ryan); Seattle 5 (Figgins, Griffey Jr., Jo.Lopez 3). GIDP—K.Morales. DP—Seattle 1 (Jo.Wilson, Figgins, Langerhans).

E.Santana L, 1-3 6 2/3 1055351154.40
Stokes 1 1/3 23341447.31
J.Vargas W, 3-2 7 1/3 41024963.00
League 2/3 00003142.04
Kelley 110001121.80

IR-S—Stokes 2-0, League 1-1. WP—Stokes, League. T—2:36. A—28,668 (47,878).

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