By David Krueger Herald Writer
SEATTLE — It might be too early to declare the Mariners winners in their offseason trade with the New York Yankees, but the two players who came to Seattle in that deal helped make the M’s winners Saturday night.
Catcher Jesus Montero hit his first home run as a Mariner and drove in three runs, and Hector Noesi pitched eight scoreless innings as Seattle defeated Oakland 4-0 at Safeco Field.
“Jesus did a great job. Did a real nice job behind home plate,” Eric Wedge, Seattle’s manager, said. “Got us going with that home run to center field. Did a good job of sticking his nose in there in that bases-loaded situation and punching that ball to right field. He really stepped up for us, had a real nice game.”
The home run came on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the second inning and extended Montero’s hitting streak to eight games, which is tied for best in the major leagues this season. It also ended a 30-inning scoreless streak for the Mariners at Safeco Field that dated back to last season.
One of the newest Mariners, Montero was happy to get his first home run at Safeco Field, a tough ballpark for hitters, in front of the hometown fans.
“It’s exciting for me to hit a home run at this field. It’s a huge field, I know. I did it (to) center field, it was unbelievable. I was impressed,” Montero said with a laugh.
Montero also started behind the plate for the second time this season. His first start came on April 11 with Kevin Millwood pitching. This time it was Noesi on the mound, someone Montero played with while he was in New York and the Yankees’ minor-league system. The two came to Seattle together in a trade that sent pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to New York in the offseason.
“I wanted those two to work together today just because they do have some history,” Wedge said. “In regard to a rapport, I think you’ve gotta say that there’s something there just for the fact that they have been together a little bit in the past.”
Montero added a two-out, bases-loaded double in the sixth inning that scored Brendan Ryan and Chone Figgins. Justin Smoak was thrown out at the plate trying to make it a three-RBI hit.
Seattle’s offense got going in the sixth when Ryan singled and boldly ran to third base on a Figgins basehit. Ryan beat the throw from the outfield and Figgins advanced to second on the play.
Dustin Ackley walked to load the bases after being down in the count 0-2. Ichiro Suzuki popped out to the shortstop and then Smoak, who along with Ackley showed good plate discipline, walked to force in a run and bring Montero to bat.
The offensive show helped the Mariners beat the Athletics by the same 4-0 score they lost by Friday night. And while the extra runs were nice, Noesi didn’t need them.
“Hector Noesi was outstanding tonight, I thought he worked really well with Montero,” Wedge said. “I felt like Hector did a great job of mixing all of his pitches, using all of his pitches. … He was a complete pitcher out there tonight.”
The eight innings pitched were a career-high for Noesi (1-1), who also struck out a career-high six batters. The scoreless outing dropped his earned-run average from 21.00 to 5.73.
Noesi got 10 Oakland batters to pop out and the A’s didn’t have a runner reach third until the eighth inning.
“He was amazing today,” Montero said. “His fastball was unbelievable.”
Making his Safeco Field debut, Noesi said “it’s a great feeling” being at home. He was hoping to get the complete game, but two Oakland hits in the eighth got his pitch count up to 105.
“I was thinking about (the complete game), but I got into trouble in the eighth,” Noesi said.
Brandon League pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close the game.
The Mariners, who had three hits on Friday, doubled that in the second game against the Athletics. Montero (2-for-3) was the only Seattle player with two hits. Casper Wells, a right-handed batter getting the start against the left-handed Tommy Milone (1-1, 2.57 ERA), got his first hit of the season. He had been 0-for-6.
Right-hander Blake Beavan will try to earn his first win of the season today as the Mariners attempt to win the final outing of the three-game series.