Mike Zunino keeps saying he pulled out of a recent slump by concentrating on not pulling the ball.
And, OK, he hit a 402-foot drive to right field that capped a five-run seventh inning Wednesday, which carried the Mariners to an 8-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
“That’s sort of what I’ve been working on,” Zunino said. “Trying to clean up some mechanics. It’s been a work in progress, but I’ve hit more balls over there than I have in the past.
“It’s nice to see that and especially to see the power that way.”
But Zunino can still turn on a pitch — as he proved with a 470-foot drive in the fifth inning against Texas starter Martin Perez that landed in the upper deck beyond the left-field wall at Globe Life Park.
Four hundred and seventy feet. Texas officials said it was only the fourth ball to land in that level since the park opened in 1994.
“I knew I hit it well,” Zunino said. “I’ve seen a lot of BPs here, a lot of big guys hitting here, and I haven’t seen one go up there. I guess it’s cool to be a part of that group. It’s nice when they go that far.”
Zunino’s first homer opened the scoring and was the longest drive of his career. He now has a career-best 23 homers and is batting .379 (22-for-58) in his last 17 games.
Kyle Seager keyed the five-run seventh inning with a two-run single in a tough left-on-left matchup against reliever Jake Diekman. Jean Segura had two hits, including a two-run homer. Mitch Haniger also had two more hits.
Mike Leake also improved to 3-0 as a Mariner by limiting the Rangers to one run in 52⁄3 innings before the bullpen covered the final 10 outs. Leake has allowed five runs in 182⁄3 innings for a 2.41 ERA.
“The key for us tonight was certainly Leake getting us deep in the game,” manager Scott Servais said. “Perez was throwing the ball outstanding, and he’s been one of the hottest pitchers in the league.”
The victory pulled the Mariners back to .500 at 73-73 with 16 games remaining. They began the night trailing Minnesota by 31⁄2 games in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
Zunino’s boomer and Segura’s homer in the fifth inning came against Perez, who had won his last seven starts. The Rangers scored once in the sixth before the Mariners blew the game open with their five-run seventh.