What a difference a few wins can make

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comMay 6, 2013 

TORONTO — Both were losses in which the Mariners allowed 10 runs, starter Joe Saunders looked dismal on the mound and winning was unlikely from about the fourth inning on.

But the mood after those two blowout losses couldn’t have been more different.

The Mariners slogged their way through a 10-3 loss April 24 to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Saunders was roughed up for eight runs on 11 hits in five innings.

It was the last game of an awful 1-5 trip to Texas that included the Mariners’ second series loss to the Astros this season. The team had an 8-15 record and was playing deplorable baseball.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge had seen enough and let his team have it in a closed-door postgame meeting.

Fast forward to Sunday, when the Mariners looked sluggish in a 10-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Saunders again was shaky, allowing seven runs and nine hits in five innings. The Mariners were limited to three hits against former teammate Brandon Morrow.

But there was no postgame meeting. There was no frustration or anger.

Why?

Well, the Mariners had taken two of three from the Blue Jays for their third series win in a row. They have won seven of their past 10 games and look like a much better team.

“We feel good about ourselves,” Kyle Seager said. “Obviously today was a tough one. But winning two before then is a good thing. We have a lot of confidence, and we are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

Even Saunders found positives after the outing.

“Our confidence level is high,” Saunders said. “You aren’t going to win every game, and you are going to have games like this. But it’s how we bounce back. And I think we’ve shown we can do that.”

The Mariners will have two days off this week sandwiched around a two-game stay in Pittsburgh. They then open a three-game home series Friday against the Oakland A’s.

ODDITIES

No matter how many baseball games you watch, you always can see things you’ve never seen before.

Take Sunday, for instance.

Jesus Montero reached first on an infield single. That in itself seems improbable.

The lumbering catcher, who has foot speed only a tortoise could love, was credited with the feat in the fifth inning.

With runners on first and second and no outs, Montero hit a rocket ground ball to third. Blue Jays third baseman Mark DeRosa made a diving stop, got up and fired to second to get the force. But Dustin Ackley beat the throw.

Montero still was rumbling toward first base, but the official scorer, who sees the Mariners once a season, generously ruled that Montero would have been safe on a throw from DeRosa and called it an infield hit.

Yet that wasn’t the oddest play.

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who likely would be the slowest player on any team that didn’t have Montero on it, managed to notch an infield double.

Infield double?

Yes, in the eighth inning, Morales hit a towering infield popup. The ball was directly above the pitcher’s mound. Morrow got out of the way, just as he was taught to do.

DeRosa and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion both converged on the popup. Encarnacion called off DeRosa for the play.

But as he was making the catch, he tripped over the pitcher’s mound and fell face-first in the dirt.

The ball bounced high in the air. Morales, to his credit, kept running, and he made it to second base for a double despite the ball going no more than 65 feet from the plate.

ON TAP

The Mariners have today off while they travel to Pittsburgh. They open their two-game series with the Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park.

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish

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