By John Boyle
Joe Saunders’ second start as a Mariners went a lot better than his first, and perhaps the setting had something to do with it. By pitching 6.1 shutout innings in Seattle’s 3-0 victory over Houston, Saunders improved to 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 10 starts at Safeco Field.
“I don’t know,” Saunders said, “From day one I said I’m comfortable here. I like this place. There’s just something about this place that I like. I can’t really explain it… This place has been nice to me. Hopefully it keeps going.”
Of course Saunders needed some run support, which he got from a pair of Kendrys Morales RBI hits, and he also got one incredible defensive play from centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who made a diving catch in the gap to rob Ronny Cedeno of extra bases in the third.
“I think the play of the game, obviously, was Guti,” Saunders said. “That kept the momentum on our side. Defense was awesome, got some clutch hits from Kendrys too, so it was a good team effort.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was excited to see Saunders bounce back from last week’s loss, and was equally encouraged to see his team manufacture runs with small ball when a single followed by pair of bunts led to Seattle’s third run.
“That’s good to see,” Wedge said. “As I’ve said so many times, once these guys settle in, I think we’ll be doing it from top to bottom in different fashion, but that’s a good way. We don’t want to be a one-dimensional club, and I don’t believe we will be. There were some things that happened tonight that were indicative of that, and I think we’ll continue to see that.”
A few notes from the game…
The win improved Seattle to 22-15 in home openers, and it snapped a three-game losing streak in home openers. It was also the Mariners’ third shutout in home opener (2003, 2007).
Kendrys Morales has hit safely in four straight games, and three of those were multi-hit games.
Monday was the first hitless game of the season for Michael Morse.