PITTSBURGH — No rookie has any business hitting that pitch that way that hard.
But the Mariners’ Kyle Lewis says he’s always had natural opposite-field power, and he showed it off once again Wednesday night.
With an inside-out swing, Lewis hit a 91-mph inside sinker 383 feet over PNC Park’s out-of-town scoreboard in right field, his fifth home run in his eighth major-league game.
The ball rocketed off Lewis’ bat at 102.1 mph, and all 10 of his major league hits have registered off his barrel at least at 100 mph.
“I’m sure looking back on it I’ll be able to reflect on those kinds of things down the road, but right now I’m just in the moment, trying to keep working,” he said.
Lewis had 11 home runs in 122 games for Double-A Arkansas this season.
“It’s always an honor being able to do things that kind of are groundbreaking,” Lewis said. “It’s always cool. So I am sure looking back on it, I will be able to reflect on those kinds of things down the road. But right now I am in the moment and am keeping working.”
The 24-year-old former first-round pick had a miserable night Tuesday, going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
How would he respond?
In his first at-bat of the Mariners’ 4-1 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday, Lewis hit a hard line drive to center field —caught for an out.
In his second at-bat against Pittsburgh starter Dario Agrazal, Lewis got ahead in the count, 2-0. He swung through a sinker on the next pitch, making the count 2-1. He didn’t miss the next one.
“I actually think I executed the pitch well,” Agrazal said. “If anything, I tip my hat, I take off my hat, to that hitter. I feel like I threw the ball well. I executed it well. He connected well, and I have to tip my hat to him.”
Of his five home runs, three have either gone to center field, right-center or right (all at T-Mobile Park). The other two went over the wall in left-center.
“That’s who he is,” manager Scott Servais said Tuesday, when asked about Lewis’ opposite-field approach. “He does have that kind of power. He’s kind of built that way. He stays inside the ball. He doesn’t get around and hook a lot of balls, which is good.
“Those guys usually end up driving in a lot of runs in their career. We had another guy around here by the name of Edgar Martinez who was pretty good at doing that. You become really valuable in the middle of the lineup when you can hit the ball all over the field — you are going to drive in a lot of runs, and I think Kyle’s going to do that.”
Tom Murphy followed Lewis with a 420-foot homer to straightaway center field Wednesday off Agrazal, giving the Mariners a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning. It was Murphy’s 18th dinger of the season.
Dylan Moore drove in the Mariners’ first two runs with a line-drive double to left field, scoring Kyle Seager and Murphy.
Rookie right-hander Justin Dunn was better in his second appearance for the Mariners, both as an opener for Tommy Milone.
His nerves, it seemed, haven’t completely settled down just yet. But “baby steps,” as Servais said.
“It was a little bit better tonight. Not quite where he wants to be yet, but he took a step in the right direction,” Servais said.
The 23-year-old right-hander managed to throw two scoreless innings against the Pirates, but he did walk three more batters in those two innings. Servais said he was pleased that Dunn’s walks Wednesday, for the most part, came during competitive at-bats.
“I’m still not happy with them —three walks is still too many for me,” Dunn said. “But I’m happy to be around the zone and I can build on that.”
In his first two major league appearances, Dunn has recorded as many outs (eight) as walks issued.
Control was not a concern for Dunn during his breakthrough season at Double-A Arkansas, where he had a 158-to-39 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 131.2 innings pitched.
He threw 36 pitches Wednesday night, 19 for strikes, with only one hit allowed.
Dunn also recorded his first major-league strikeout — his final out of the night.
Milone followed as Seattle’s “bulk” pitcher. He allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings to earn the victory.
“Tommy threw the ball really well tonight,” Servais said. “Tommy had a real good changeup. Kept them off-balance tonight. It was great to see. Got us deep into the ballgame, and got enough offense.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Braden Bishop made a terrific running catch as he crashed into the wall in deep center field, likely saving a couple runs. Matt Magill earned his fifth save.