Back-to-back home runs cap rally
SEATTLE – While one Mariners newcomer struggles to hold it together these final weeks, another appears to be just taking off.
Michael Pineda got rocked early and often on Monday night, serving up three home runs and four walks before the game was even four innings old. But red-hot Mike Carp kept Pineda’s team alive just long enough, clubbing two home runs in a 6-5 comeback win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Carp’s second blast was a solo homer to right field off veteran reliever Trever Miller that tied the score in the eighth. The next batter, Casper Wells, took Jon Rauch over the left-field wall to give Seattle the lead for good.
A crowd of 28,530 at Safeco Field erupted as the Wells’ shot gave Seattle back-to-back home runs for only the second time this season. It was the fourth homer for Wells in five games at this ballpark since coming from the Detroit Tigers in a July 30 trade.
Carp continued his torrid stretch of hitting, extending his hitting streak to 15 games with a solo blast to left field off Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez in the third inning. But it was his second home run, coming at a point in the game where his team had ceased doing anything offensively, that really turned the tide.
Since being recalled from Triple-A on July 19 for a second go-round with Seattle, Carp has hit .371 with six home runs and has reached base safely in 24 consecutive games – the longest active streak in the majors.
The hitting exploits by the young Mariners helped erase memories of another trouble-plagued outing by Pineda, who looked nothing like the pitcher fans came to enjoy over most of the first four-plus months of the season.
Instead, there were times Pineda looked every bit as raw as his Blue Jays mound opponent, and that guy was making only his second big-league start. Pineda gave up a two-run homer to Eric Thames in the first inning, another to Adam Lind in the third and a solo shot to Brett Lawrie in the fourth.
Pineda barely escaped giving up another two-run blast, on an Edwin Encarnacion shot to the warning track in his fifth and final inning. The Blue Jays got two in that frame but Pineda managed to strike out Lawrie on his 94th and final pitch to keep his team in it.
The latest tough outing for Pineda will raise questions about his workload the remainder of the season. The Mariners were already planning to back Pineda off a bit and will likely rest him an extra day or two before his next outing.
But it was clear from the very first inning that Pineda just didn’t have it working for him. He walked leadoff batter Yunel Escobar on four pitches, then served up the no-doubt two-run homer deep into the right-field stands by Thames.
Pineda has failed to reach the seven-inning mark in his last eight outings after doing so seven times in an All-Star first half of the season. It was the second time in his last four starts he’s failed to go five.
Dan Cortes helped keep the M’s in this one with two scoreless innings after taking over from Pineda. Tom Wilhelmsen got the M’s through the eighth to pick up his first major-league win and Brandon League finished the ninth, though not without drama. A two-out single brought slugger Jose Bautista to the plate, but League got him to ground out to third to end the game.
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