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.”