May 31, 2012 in Sports

Mariners’ offense bursts out in romp past Rangers

Geoff Baker Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Justin Smoak follows through on a three-run home run off Texas Rangers’ Koji Uehara in the eighth inning.
(Full-size photo)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Justin Smoak figured it was the best swing he’s put on a ball all season, while his manager would throw in last year as well.

Not that the Mariners really needed a three-run, upper-deck shot from Smoak when they were already ahead by a touchdown, two-point conversion and a field goal with two innings to go. But for many in a jubilant clubhouse afterward, the best part of a 21-8 demolition of the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night was that the Mariners never stopped pouring it on.

“It was a great feeling,” said Smoak, who also hit a three-run homer in the third inning to guide the team’s 20-hit night. “Guys were going up there with their approach and sticking to it, taking their walks when they weren’t getting pitches to hit. The more base runners you have on, you’re going to work the pitcher more and get him tired and then you’ll get pitches to hit.”

The Mariners exhausted Rangers starter Derek Holland before he could make it out of the second inning. They set a season high for runs in an inning with eight in the second, then matched that with eight more in the third off reliever Yoshinori Tateyama to take a 16-0 lead.

Kyle Seager finished with four hits, while Jesus Montero hit a two-run homer on a three-hit night. Michael Saunders added three hits and Dustin Ackley had a pair, including a two-run homer. Every Mariners regular had a hit by the fourth inning.

By the time it was done, those stragglers remaining in the crowd of 43,580 at Rangers Ballpark had seen the Mariners fall a run shy of their record for one game, set in 1999 at home against Detroit. Their 21 runs equaled a team record for most on the road, a mark first reached in 2000 at Anaheim.

The scoring barrage tied for the second-most runs allowed by the Rangers, two shy of the record 23 they gave up to the Yankees in 2000.

It was more than enough support for Blake Beavan to pick up a win despite allowing five runs in his sixth and final inning.

Seattle clinched a series victory in Texas for the first time since the end of the 2010 season.

Smoak finished with a career-best six runs batted in to go with his first multiple-homer game. His upper-deck shot in the eighth on a 2-0 pitch from Koji Uehara had the crowd gasping as the towering no-doubter landed an estimated 414 feet from the plate.

“It felt very fulfilling,” Smoak said. “It’s something I’ve been working on. I was just trying to hit the ball out in front and that’s something I did tonight.”

Seager, in his debut in the No. 3 spot in the order, added two more doubles and two singles and nearly homered, as well, on a sixth-inning blast that was caught at the warning track. Seager had collected three hits in Tuesday night’s win and agreed one of the challenges for the team this time was to maintain focus despite the huge early lead.

“That’s the thing we talk about all the time,” he said. “Even when you get up like that, you’ve still got to keep your focus. You’ve still got to put together good at-bats. You’re still trying. All of your at-bats count. You don’t want to give an at-bat away at the end of the year. You don’t want to give an at-bat away where you maybe get into a bad habit.”

The Mariners matched their season high with a six-run eighth inning Tuesday night, then equaled that against Holland in the second inning Wednesday. But what really turned the game surreal was Seattle putting eight runs up again in the third.

It’s only the seventh time in major league history a team has scored that many runs in back-to-back innings. Montero started the second inning with a leadoff single, then capped the scoring with a two-run homer off Holland.

An inning later, he was back at it with a run-scoring double.

“Every time we had a good pitch, we hit it,” he said. “It was fun.”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge has been telling his team to swing at hittable pitches and lay off the non-hittable stuff.

Wedge never expected results to this degree, but will take it.

“It’s just a lot of what we’ve been talking about,” he said. “Up there ready to hit, consistent with their plan and their approach. Recognizing pitches, laying off pitchers’ pitches and hitting the pitches they should turn around.”

And then some.

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