HOUSTON – The postgame music wasn’t any louder. There was no additional yelling in the clubhouse or extra celebrations.
It may seem strange, but this-winning-is expected. This is the 2014 Mariners.
Seattle capped a series sweep of the Houston Astros on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, getting yet another outstanding start from Chris Young and rallying from a 2-0 deficit with a four-run sixth inning en route to a 5-2 win.
With the win, the M’s won their fourth straight game and have won 10 of their last 12 to improve to 47-38. It’s the first time an M’s team has been nine games over .500 since the end of the 2007 season.
But there was no overwhelming giddiness because of the win or the sweep. It’s part of the attitude that was pushed by manager Lloyd McClendon in spring training, tested by an early eight-game losing streak and forged by surprising runs of success where they’ve found ways to win games they shouldn’t.
It’s a businesslike confidence and the ability to move on each day that hasn’t been evident in the organization in quite some time.
“We’re an even-keeled group,” Young said. “The highs aren’t too high and the lows aren’t too low. We’ve been through an eight-game losing streak and I don’t know what our winning streaks have been and I don’t think anybody cares. We know it’s a long season and there’s a long way to go. We still have a lot to prove and we haven’t played our best baseball yet.”
And yet they’ve had success, which is surprising to many, but not to them. They believe they’re a good team and they’ve earned it.
“I think you are seeing day in and day out what we are capable of doing.” said Dustin Ackley, who had three hits in the game. “I don’t think you can say it’s a fluke anymore. I think everybody is starting to see that this is what we are capable of doing.”
For the second straight day, the Mariners broke the game open in the sixth inning. On Tuesday, they scored seven runs on six straight run-scoring hits.
Wednesday’s sixth inning was sort of a surprise since there were no prior signs of offense from the Mariners. The Astros were up 2-0 and their starter Brad Peacock had cruised through five shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out five.
“Early on we were pretty flat,” McClendon said.
But it all started to unravel for the Astros with one out in the top of the sixth. James Jones singled to right. Peacock then hit Robinson Cano in the back of the leg with a pitch and walked Kyle Seager, throwing several pitches in the dirt well in front of the plate. That trend continued with the bases loaded and Logan Morrison at bat. One of those dirt balls bounced past catcher Carlos Corporan to the backstop, allowing Jones to score on the wild pitch.
Peacock made an adjustment and stopped spiking his pitches in the dirt. Unfortunately for him, it meant he left them out over the plate. Morrison took advantage, doubling down the right-field line to score two runs and give the Mariners a 3-2 lead.
“You want to be aggressive in that situation, but obviously aggressive in the zone,” Morrison said. “The pitches weren’t really that close to the zone, so they were really that hard to take. And then when you get into a plus count, you are looking to do damage.
“For me, I was looking for a fastball because he wasn’t throwing many strikes in that inning and was losing it. I was looking for a fastball right down the middle. I was able to get one and put it in the hole.”
John Buck followed with an RBI single to score Morrison and end Peacock’s outing.
A 4-2 lead was plenty for Young. The veteran right-hander turned in one of his best starts of the season, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs on two hits with a walk and season-high eight strikeouts.
The two hits were solo homers.