By Bob Dutton Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Well, how about this?
Just when it appeared the Mariners were headed toward a ninth straight loss Wednesday afternoon, Kyle Seager unloaded a three-run homer that delivered a 5-3 walk-off victory over the Houston Astros.
“Nobody was really stressing,” Seager insisted. “We’ve been all right. We know what we have here. Obviously, nobody wants to lose. So that’s been hard, but we know what we have here, and we haven’t been panicking.”
Well … maybe. Let’s just say the Mariners needed this.
“We lost eight in a row,” designated hitter Corey Hart said, “but we easily could have won half of those games. We were in all of the games. It’s just we didn’t get the big hit or the big out.
“We battled back today. Seeg, obviously, had a great game. Me and Robby (Cano) found a way to get on, and it happened. It was good. I don’t know if you’d draw it up that way, but it definitely worked.”
Seager’s game-winner, which came against former teammate Josh Fields, was his second homer of the game. His two-run drive in the seventh inning against Houston starter Jared Cosart closed the gap to 3-2.
So … two homers in two at-bats after going 153 at-bats without one dating to Sept. 3, 2013 at Kansas City.
“Obviously, he has a track record,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and I said all along he is going to hit. Obviously, a losing streak and the guys you expect to hit don’t hit, it’s a little frustrating.
“In that case, you have two options: sit ’em or play ’em. I chose to play them. I think he’s going to be just fine.”
Both of Seager’s homers went to right field and both were no-doubters. Fields (0-1) had recorded saves in the two previous games but simply started walking toward the dugout as soon as the ball left the bat.
“We faced him the last two nights,” Seager said, “and I’ve gotten behind (against) him both times. He’s got really good stuff. I played with him when he was with us. I know what kind of stuff he has.
“You definitely don’t want a guy like that to get ahead of you.”
The Mariners, trailing 3-2, opened the ninth inning with singles by Cano and Hart. After Michael Saunders replaced Hart as a pinch-runner, Justin Smoak struck out.
Seager then jumped a first-pitch fastball which brought the Mariners cascading out of their dugout in celebration. Fernando Rodney (1-1) got the victory after stranding two runners in the top of the inning.
“Nice,” Hart said. “Definitely overdue.”
Seattle starter Chris Young battled early command problems, which proved costly in a two-run third inning, but yielded just three runs and four hits in seven innings.
“My rhythm and tempo are really bad early,” he said. “I picked up right where I left off in Miami (when he lasted just three innings in an 8-4 loss). The fourth inning, I found it.”
But three runs tend to go a long way these days against the M’s, who had scored two or fewer in nine of the previous 13 games.
“The first three innings,” Young said, “I was really mad at myself. And I dug the team a hole. But the guys picked me up, and it’s a character win for our club.”
The Astros took a 2-0 lead on Jason Castro’s two-out double after two walks in the third inning and added a run on Chris Carter’s leadoff homer in the seventh. That seemed to be enough for Cosart and the Houston bullpen.
Until the end.
“The most demoralizing loss in baseball,” Astros manager Bo Porter said, “is a late-inning loss when you have the game won.”
Cosart entered the day with a 7.36 ERA but held the Mariners scoreless until Seager’s first homer, a two-run blast in the seventh inning.
“He threw the ball really well,” Seager said. “He had really good stuff. Just to get on the board, and break that up a little bit, was good.”
It was a start.
The finish was even better.