Wasn’t this a nice encore Friday for Mariners rookie outfielder Ben Gamel? So, what’s he got planned for Saturday?
Gamel had a double and a homer Friday night and scored twice in a 3-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians in the start to a three-game weekend series at Progressive Field.
That came one day after Gamel’s RBI single in the ninth inning produced a 2-1 victory at Detroit. Not bad for a guy summoned Wednesday from Triple-A Tacoma after Mitch Haniger suffered a strained oblique.
"I’m feeling good at the plate right now," Gamel said. "I’m just trying to be soft and easy. Not try to do too much. Just looking for some good pitches to hit."
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Asked to explain soft and easy, Gamel said: "Landing soft on my front foot instead of diving in hard."
Robinson Cano also contributed a two-run homer Friday, which followed Gamel’s double in the fourth inning, and, suddenly, the Mariners, once travel-scarred at 1-9, have won four of their last five on the road.
Three runs were enough largely because lefty starter Ariel Miranda (2-2) rallied from a shaky start and limited the Indians to one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out seven.
"I had to pick up my concentration," said Miranda, who walked two batters in the first inning. "It was a little off in the first two innings. Then I made the adjustment, and things worked out better.
"I don’t feel it was mechanical. It was some type of mental adjustment that I had to make. After that, things changed."
James Pazos then nursed the two-run lead into the eighth inning before the Mariners turned to Edwin Diaz to face Edwin Encarnacion with two outs and a runner at second in the eighth.
Diaz struck out Encarnacion and worked a scoreless ninth inning with two more strikeouts for his fourth save in five chances. The Mariners have limited opponents to two runs and 12 hits over the last three games.
"James Pazos got us over the hump," manager Scott Servais said. "He came in and was firing bullets. He’s got that kind of stuff. He had really good rhythm tonight in his delivery."
The Mariners scored first — as they did in all seven previous games on their road trip.
Gamel opened the fourth inning with a double into the left-center gap against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, and Cano followed with a 402-foot homer to center.
Cleveland clawed one run back later in the inning on Jose Ramirez’s homer to left. The ball caromed back into the field and was initially ruled in play as Ramirez stopped at second.
But a quick crew-chief review confirmed it as a homer. It was also the Indians’ first hit against Miranda, who ended the inning by striking out the next two batters.
The Mariners got their two-run lead back on Gamel’s one-out homer in the sixth inning, a 346-foot drive to right.
"I was just hoping it stayed fair," he said. "I knew I got enough of it."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Pazos and Diaz each struck out Encarnacion in key situation. Pazos did it for the second out in the sixth inning with a runner at first after replacing Miranda.
Diaz did it for the final out in the eighth inning after replacing Pazos with a runner at second base.
PLUS: Gamel had two of the Mariners’ six hits and has four hits in his last seven at-bats…Cano boosted his RBI total to 17…the Mariners’ three pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts, a season best…Jean Segura opened the game with a double as is 6-for-10 as the leadoff hitter in the first inning,..
MINUS: Rough night for Dan Vogelbach, who replaced ailing Nelson Cruz as the designated hitter. Vogelbach struck out twice and grounded into a double play…Mike Zunino was 0-for-3, which dropped his average to. 177.
STAT PACK: The 2 1/3 innings by James Pazos were a career high in his 28 appearances. He said: "I’m definitely a little tired, but I didn’t get tired until I came out."
QUOTABLE: Zunino on Miranda rallying from a shaky start: "Early on, he was feeling for his off-speed stuff. It’s just one of those things where you have to keep using it.
"He did great job of battling through it. We tried to use his split and changeup in safe counts and, by the third inning, he really got in a groove with it. We had to use it quite a bit in the fourth and fifth.
"That’s the type of stuff that separates guys at this level. When they’re not feeling their best, they can grind through a start and still give us a chance."
SHORT HOPS: Diaz pitched in his third straight game, and his four-out save was only the second multi-inning save of his career. Asked whether he available for Saturday, he said: "I feel good. I will come ready to pitch."…Cano appeared to forget how many outs there were when he struck out in the sixth inning. It was the second out, but he put his bat and helmet down near the plate and was removing his batting gloves before gathering up everything and jogging to the dugout.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners