Standing by his locker in a relaxed clubhouse, Endy Chavez wore a wide smile. Partly, it had to do with a 13-3 thumping of the White Sox in front of 18,740 at Safeco Field. A larger reason was that Chavez, owner of 29 career homers entering Thursday’s game, hit one farther than his teammate, Robinson Cano.
“I (told) him, ‘When you stand up at home plate, you make sure the ball (goes out) like I did,'” Chavez said with a laugh.
Chavez’s 30th homer came in the fourth inning in what was a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Preceded by Mike Zunino’s two-out single, Chavez connected on a 1-1 pitch from Chicago starter Scott Carroll.
The home run was the second of four, and kick-started an offensive output rarely seen by the home team in Safeco. With 24 runs in the three games of this homestand, Seattle (60-54) has scored more runs than in its previous nine home games.
Whether it came as a result of Chicago’s 13th-ranked pitching staff (4.37 ERA) in the American League, or an offense which Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said he thought was “building,” it produced again.
“We have a deeper lineup, we have professional hitters in that lineup, guys with some at-bats behind their name,” said McClendon. “They’re feeling good about what they’re doing. I like the talk, I like the walk.”
Cano’s homer came with Seattle holding a 3-0 lead with one out in the fifth. After Dustin Ackley walked, Carroll appeared to be pitching around Cano by throwing his first three pitches nowhere close to the strike zone. Carroll dropped a breaking ball in for a strike. On the next pitch, Cano hit a high fly that could have brought rain, then landed in the front row of the right-field seats.
Carroll, a 29-year-old rookie who made his debut April 27, wasn’t as sharp as he was over his previous three road starts, when he posted a 2-0 record and 0.53 ERA. He was pulled after yielding seven runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings.
Kyle Seager and Ackley also hit homers as the Mariners tied a season high with four as part of the 12-hit attack.
The barrage provided more than enough support for starter Roenis Elias in his 23rd start and second go-round against the White Sox. The rookie was looking to build off a July 4 loss in which he was tagged for five runs on seven hits in five innings at Chicago.
Elias (9-9, 4.14 ERA) more than did that. The Cuban left-hander retired 13 of the first 14 hitters he faced without allowing a hit until Conor Gillaspie doubled down the right-field line. A sixth inning, two-out homer by Dayan Viciedo provided the lone blemishes to Elias’ ledger and subsequently ended his night.
McClendon lifted Elias after he worked 5.2 innings and allowed two runs on two hits and two walks. He struck out five and also hit a batter.
“He pitched a pretty good game,” McClendon said of his young starter. Nevertheless, the Mariners after the game optioned him to Triple-A Tacoma to monitor an innings count that surpassed his Double-A total in 2013 (130).
“We still have to watch his innings . . . These are precious innings for a young kid coming out of Double-A,” said McClendon. “Our plan is to bring him back in the Philadelphia series” Aug. 18-20.
In response to Viciedo’s homer, Seattle sent eight men to the plate and scored three times. The key hit came from Ackley, who rifled a single down the left-field line with the bases loaded and two outs. The hit scored two to give the M’s a 7-2 lead. A wild pitch by Daniel Webb made it 8-2.
Ackley was 2-for-4 with walk and four RBI, which tied a career high. Since July 1, he is hitting .351 (39-for-111) with 14 extra-base hits and 15 RBI. He has hit four homers in the past seven games.
Five more runs came over the seventh and eighth innings as the White Sox bullpen struggled. Seager’s two-run homer was the highlight, coming after Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The pitch from reliever Maikel Cleto, a former Mariner farmhand, was in response to two seemingly unintentional pitches that hit White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and led to the ejection of McClendon.
The M’s skipper said he took exception with home plate umpire Toby Basner’s decision to simply warn Cleto.
“If you thought he threw at him, then he should be ejected from the game. Not a warning,” McClendon said.
The ejection was the third for McClendon and only served to give him more time in the clubhouse to enjoy his team’s win. Cano also departed early, leaving in the seventh inning for pinch-hitter Brad Miller. Cano reached base all four times Thursday, with a home run, two RBI and two intentional walks.
The second baseman sees the offense coming around as well: “The good thing is we are waking up at the right time,” Cano said.
Seattle scored seven-plus runs for the second consecutive game after not doing so since July 1, a span of 28 games . . . Erasmo Ramirez was pulled after two innings in his start for Class AAA Tacoma Thursday. With the Mariners needing a starter Sunday, the move gives an indication that Ramirez (1-5, 4.35 ERA) will get the call.
Who’d ever think that the M’s would be a better game than the Hawks? I thought they might outscore them too!