For a patchwork unit, the Mariners’ rotation is putting together an impressive homestand.
Rookie right-hander Chase De Jong held Texas to one run in six innings Saturday in an 8-2 victory at Safeco Field. That means the rotation has limited opponents to eight earned runs in 29 1/3 innings over the first five games of the homestand.
That converts to a 2.45 ERA, which would be a plus under any circumstance — let alone for a unit that has three of its five projected members on the disabled list.
De Jong didn’t get the victory Saturday because the game was still 1-1 into the seventh inning before the Mariners produced a season-best, seven-run inning. Danny Valencia and Ben Gamel keyed the outburst with two-run singles.
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The Mariners continue their next-man-up approach Sunday when rookie Dillon Overton shifts roles from long reliever to spot starter in place of injured James Paxton in the series finale against the Rangers.
Three takeaways from Saturday’s victory:
***De Jong delivers: It’s a sign of De Jong’s maturity, at 23, that he didn’t crack earlier this season after seeing his big-league debut end in a walk-off homer and his first big-league start result in a nine-run disaster over 2 2/3 innings.
Instead, he stayed true to his mantra of concentrating on the process and not the results. De Jong dismissed the suggestion that he merely flush those disappointment from his mind. Instead, he analyzed his mistakes.
As clinical as that sounds, he admitted it was "incredibly" satisfying Saturday to prove he can have success against a big-league opponent.
"Tonight, I did my job," he said. "To finally be able to put together a body of work like that in front of fans and everybody, it’s very comforting to me to be able to say, `Look, I can get outs at this level.’"
De Jong entered the rotation as a replacement for Felix Hernandez, who should be ready to start a throwing program this week in his recovery from bursitis in his shoulder. De Jong is in line for at least one and probably two more starts.
***The hitting machine: Shortstop Jean Segura led the National League last season in hits while playing at Arizona, and it’s easy to see why. He hits. It’s that simple. He hits.
Segura had three more hits Saturday in raising his average to .357. It was his second straight three-hit game and his fifth in 19 games. Despite missing 12 games because of a hamstring injury, he is closing in on the league leaders in hits.
***Bullpen perspective: The Mariners have the second-worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 5.64. That’s a fact, but manager Scott Servais keeps insisting his relief corps is not as bad as that number suggests — and he’s got a point.
Much of the damage can be traced to middle or long relievers, many of whom are no longer on the big-league roster.
Scale it back to closer Eddie Diaz and the club’s primary setup relievers: James Pazos, Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Vincent and Tony Zych. The combined ERA for those five is 2.35. Pazos and Zych each contributed a scoreless inning on Saturday.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners