SEATTLE – Omar Narvaez stood and watched.
Can you blame him? The first-year Mariners catcher’s arms were extended, hips flipped open, bat hanging triumphantly behind his head. For a second or two, the 27-year-old Venezuelan was a 5-foot-11, 220-pound statue, gazing up into the seats as a blistered baseball bolted out of the ballpark. He watched, and so did everybody else, admiring a Mariners offense that has consistently, mercilessly clobbered the defending champs.
Narvaez’s three-run homer was the most emphatic moment – and the loudest crack of the bat – in a seven-run third inning for the Mariners on Sunday. Seattle (5-1) ultimately posted 12 hits and two homers, topping the Boston Red Sox 10-8 to take three out of four games in the series.
On a sunny Sunday in Seattle, the Mariners’ offense shined. Besides Narvaez, four other M’s batters posted multiple hits. Ryon Healy finished 2 for 4 with a double, his eighth extra-base hit in six games this season. Dee Gordon piled up three RBIs via a single and a sacrifice fly. Mitch Haniger finished 2 for 5 with a bouncing double down the third base line that plated two, and Jay Bruce belted his second home run of the season. For the slow-starting 1-3 Red Sox, this was death by a hundred hits.
In that explosive seven-run third inning, the Mariners brought 10 batters to the plate. They piled up four hits, three walks and a sacrifice fly but it all started with an error. Haniger led off the inning by sailing a fly ball into left field and advancing to second base when Boston’s J.D. Martinez lost it in the sun. Red Sox starter Rick Porcello failed to escape the frame, lasting 2 2/3 innings and allowing six hits and nine runs (just four earned) with four walks.
That offensive output helped ensure a win for 34-year-old lefty Wade LeBlanc, who went 5 1/3 innings and surrendered seven hits, six runs (four earned), three walks and a Martinez 3-run homer in his first start of the season. Nick Rumbelow also served up an immediate solo homer to reigning American League MVP Mookie Betts after replacing LeBlanc in the sixth inning.
The Seattle bullpen momentarily stiffened, as Matt Festa and Roenis Elias combined for a pair of scoreless innings. But Cory Gearrin and Chasen Bradford also combined to walk four Red Sox in the ninth inning, forcing in one run in the process, before Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded out to end the bases-loaded threat.
On this day – and five others in March – the Mariners’ offense was enough. In six games this season, Scott Servais’ squad has averaged 8.2 runs. That included 35 runs in the four-game series with the Red Sox. If you hit enough, it seems, inconsistent pitching can be overcome. Same with Seattle’s defense, which unfortunately leads the major leagues with nine errors (and counting).
At the end of that highlight-heavy third inning, Mariners center fielder Mallex Smith scored from first base on the aforementioned Haniger double. In fact, the speedy Smith didn’t even stop at home, sprinting helmet-less through the plate and into the dugout, happily high-fiving teammates along the way.
In that moment, Smith mirrored the Mariners’ offense in March. Just when you think they’re going to stop, these Mariners keep right on going.
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