Seattle Mariners outfielders, from left, Dee Gordon, Guillermo Heredia, and Mitch Haniger celebrate after they helped defeat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 Sunday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seattle Mariners outfielders, from left, Dee Gordon, Guillermo Heredia, and Mitch Haniger celebrate after they helped defeat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 Sunday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Timely homers lift the Mariners past the Indians

Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger connect in the seventh inning to spark Seattle to a 5-4 victory

SEATTLE — Dee Gordon flashed a Robinson Cano-style bat drop, a plant and turn like a wide receiver just before touching third base, a low-five to third-base coach Scott Brosius, and an aggressive, bounding high-five with Jean Segura before heading into the dugout.

The Miami Marlins certainly had to be expecting Gordon to be slapping go-ahead home runs like that and making diving plays in center field when they traded him to Seattle this offseason, right?

“Yeah … I mean, no,” Gordon said with a laugh. “No, not at all.”

Gordon’s flash came just before Mitch Haniger’s mash.

Their seventh-inning home runs were critical in the Mariners’ 5-4 comeback victory over the Indians on Sunday at Safeco Field to swipe the season-opening series against the team that had the most wins in the American League last year (102).

And they did it without the Mariners’ Boomstick, Nelson Cruz, and power-hitting catcher Mike Zunino.

“It’s huge,” Haniger said. “At home, open up the weekend and get them without two of our main hitters — that was really good. Really good.”

Haniger’s two-run home run — his second bomb in as many days — came while he was hitting cleanup in the place of Cruz, who twisted his ankle on the bottom step leaving the dugout to the batting cage just after he celebrated hitting a two-run home run on Saturday.

So when Gordon finished his home run trot with that leap into Segura, Mariners manager Scott Servais held his breath.

“The scariest thing for me,” Servais said. “Never seen anybody jump that high after a home run — and we have issues after home runs here once in a while.

“But (there was) a lot of energy in our dugout and a great way for us to start the season.”

Gordon was making it up as he went, he said, after breaking what was a 2-2 tie with his leadoff home run in that seventh inning.

“Man, I don’t hit enough homers to be trying to do stuff when I hit them,” Gordon said. “So whatever happened, happened. I was excited. It was a 2-2 game against the Cleveland Indians. I was trying to win a ball game. If you’re not excited to win a ball game, you probably shouldn’t be playing.”

Haniger’s home run three batters later made it 5-2.

And that ended up being big because the Indians’ Edwin Encarnacion brought his big bat Sunday, following the next half-inning with a 403-foot two-run bomb to right field off Juan Nicasio for his second HR of the game.

So it was up to 24-year-old closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning.

And recently recalled catcher David Freitas, too.

Freitas, in his first start for the Mariners since coming over from the Braves, wouldn’t have been in Seattle if not for Zunino straining his oblique Wednesday on the final swing of his batting practice. Zunino went to the 10-day disabled list a day before the season actually began, which created a spot for Freitas.

Freitas blocked a strike-three 90-mph slider from Diaz in the dirt for the first out of the ninth inning. And Diaz followed with strikeouts of Bradley Zimmer and Francisco Lindor — also with his slider — to earn his second save in three games.

“Really, really good job — David Freitas is really good behind the plate,” said Servais, a former big-league catcher. “He’s on top of his game behind the plate, no doubt.”

Freitas also hit a double to kick-start the Mariners when they trailed 2-0 in the fifth inning. He came around to score on Jean Segura’s single.

And then the Mariners got a lucky bounce.

Kyle Seager had been hitless in his previous seven at-bats to start the season before his hopper down the first-base line. The ball bounced hard on the infield dirt and hopped over the glove of former Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso for a double into right field — with Indians starter Trevor Bauer watching with his arms on his head in disbelief.

That tied the game 2-2, with Segura scoring.

Servais said that was due.

“It’s about time we get a good hop,” Servais said. “We’ve had a few bad hops not go our way with the injuries and everything. I would like to say they all even out, but once in a while you got to get a little lucky.”

That helped salvage a quality start from Mike Leake, who wasn’t at his sharpest, but he was certainly effective, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings to earn the win.

“He mixed all of his stuff today,” Servais said of Leake. “He didn’t have his best breaking ball, but he had a good changeup early in the game. That definitely helped him along there. Mike is a really good competitor. He has a lot of different weapons, some working better than others in particular today, and he quickly finds them.”

Leake struck out four and walked three.. He threw 101 pitches in his seven innings compared to Bauer needing 101 pitches in five. So Leake played to his reputation as an innings-eater.

“I’ve been pigeon-holed into that to an extent,” Leake said. “But I don’t mind it. It’s kind of needed now in the game, I think. It’s kind of an art that’s slowly dissipating and I think, hopefully, it can actually come back to life.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Jackson High senior Dominic Hellman, a University of Oregon commit, batted a .558 this season with five home runs in 13 games. Shot on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Local athletes who have signed to play sports in college

The early signing period for all NCAA sports except Division I and II football opened Nov. 10.

Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) scores on a two-point conversion against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Grading the Seattle Seahawks’ 17-15 loss to Washington

It’s more of the same as the Seahawks continue to suffer from the same problems.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) is sacked by Washington Football Team defensive end Shaka Toney (58) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Seahawks late comeback falls short against Washington

Russell Wilson’s 2-point conversion pass in the final minute was intercepted as Seattle lost 17-15.

XXXX
Prep results for Monday, Nov. 29

Prep results for Monday, Nov. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To reports results… Continue reading

FILE - Toronto Blue Jays' Robbie Ray pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ray won the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Nov. 17, bouncing back from taking a rare pay cut after a dismal season to capture pitching’s top prize. Ray became the first Toronto pitcher to earn the honor since the late Roy Halladay in 2003.  (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Source: Mariners, AL Cy Young winner Ray agree to 5-year deal

The left-handed starter’s contract is expected to be worth $115 million.

FILE - Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer watches the team play Connecticut during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Washington is in talks with Fresno State's Kalen DeBoer to be its next head coach, two people familiar with the discussions between the Bulldogs' coach and the Pac-12 school told AP on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian, File)
UW tabs Fresno St.’s DeBoer as new head coach

The 47-year-old replaces fired coach Jimmy Lake after the Huskies’ first losing season since 2009.

Everett Silvertips players huddle together during a game against Kamloops on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Kristin Ostrowski/Everett Silvertips)
Patterson: Tips appear to be legit contenders in top-heavy WHL

Everett proved itself in a tight 3-2 loss to Kamloops, but a few moves could help shore things up.

Seattle Kraken center Mason Appleton (22) carries the puck past Buffalo Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk (13) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Kraken blast Sabers with season-high 7 goals

Jared McCann and Mason Appleton each scored two goals in the win.

Lake Stevens' Drew Carter holds up the ball after scoring a touchdown to secure the win as Lake Stevens beat Eastlake 45-28 in a 4A state semi-final football game at Pop Keeney Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 in Bothell, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Lake Stevens downs Eastlake to reach 4A state title game

The Vikings win 45-28 and will face Graham-Kapowsin for the state championship next weekend.

Most Read