The Mariners had 12 hits and two more home runs Saturday, by Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Zunino, to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5 at Peoria Stadium for their eighth consecutive Cactus League victory. Gutierrez, plagued by illness and injury for most of the past two seasons, added a two-run double in support of Hisashi Iwakuma and the Seattle bullpen.
Seattle’s eight-game winning streak matches the club’s longest in a single spring training. The only other year Seattle won eight was to close out the spring of 1993, in Lou Piniella’s first season as manager.
Gutierrez went 2-for-3 and produced four RBIs to lead the offense. Zunino’s first spring training homer was the team’s 20th, most in baseball. Zunino finished 2-for-3.
After falling in a 3-0 hole, Seattle tied the game in the third inning on a solo homer from Zunino and a two-run shot to left field by Gutierrez. With two outs in the fourth inning, Gutierrez doubled home Robert Andino and Carlos Triunfel for a 5-3 lead. Raul Ibanez doubled to lead off the fifth, and scored from third on a Casper Wells sacrifice fly for a 6-3 Seattle lead.
Iwakuma allowed back-to-back hits to start the game, then recorded six outs in his next five batters faced, including a double play to ruin the Dodgers’ hope of a big inning. Jeremy Bonderman allowed a pair of two-out runs in the third, but bounced back with a three-batter fourth. Oliver Perez, Kameron Loe, Charlie Furbush and D.J. Mitchell all tossed scoreless frames. Chance Ruffin allowed a pair of runs but closed out the ninth.
Seattle had a three-run seventh inning off former Mariners closer Brandon League. Catcher John Hicks keyed the inning, driving a two-run double deep to right field, advancing to third on an overthrow by the Dodgers right fielder, and scoring on a League wild pitch.
The Mariners remain on the road Sunday to face the Texas Rangers in Surprise.Left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders is scheduled to start against Rangers right-hander Justin Grimm.
NOTES: Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will throw a live batting practice session Sunday and make his Cactus League debut Thursday. The Mariners play two split-squad games that day, one against the Kansas City Royals, the other against the Oakland Athletics. Hernandez will likely face Kansas City.
Hernandez, who recently agreed to a $175 million contract, is scheduled to start for Seattle on Opening Day. He has made five Opening Day starts for Seattle, including each of the past four years. Four of those five starts have come against Oakland.
It’s getting harder and harder to see all these guys having crap seasons and easier to consider the M’s just might have a long shot at a wild card berth. I know it’s spring training and SSS but it is not devoid of significance.