Six home runs. That’s right, six homers.
The Seattle Mariners tied a club record Tuesday night by hitting six homers in an 11-4 rout of the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field.
It matched the most the Mariners have ever hit at Safeco. They also hit six on Aug. 27, 2004 in a 7-5 victory over Kansas City. The final two that night came in the eighth inning and provided the winning margin.
No such heroics were necessary on this occasion, although Mike Zunino’s second homer of the game, a two-run blast in the seventh, stemmed a budding San Diego comeback.
“We put up some runs (over the weekend) against Oakland,” Zunino said. “Even after an off-day (Monday), we came out swinging again. We knew, as a club, if we could have good at-bats, we’d be a good lineup.”
Kyle Seager got the Mariners started with a three-run homer in a four-run first inning against Padres starter Ian Kennedy. Logan Morrison also went deep in the third against Kennedy.
Zunino’s first homer came in a two-run sixth against reliever Shawn Kelley, a former Mariner, that pushed the lead to 7-0. Everything looked safe at that point.
Mariners starter James Paxton (1-2) had weathered five walks and two bases-loaded jams while pitching six shutout innings before handing that seven-run cushion over to the bullpen.
“Not how you draw it up,” he said, “but zeros, and we got the win. Obviously, I don’t want to walk five guys. I was a little bit all over the place, and I want to clean that up.
“But the ball was coming out real good. I had some life (on the ball). That showed. They had trouble squaring balls up. I just need to bring it into the zone.”
Paxton’s night ended when center fielder Dustin Ackley ran down Will Middlebrooks’ deep two-out fly on the warning track in right-center field for a web-gem catch.
Danny Farquhar began the seventh with a 7-0 lead — and his struggles continued. He quickly worked himself into a jam with a single and two walks after a line out to open the inning.
“I wish I knew (why he struggled),” Farquhar said. “I had those two guys (ahead in the count). Maybe just over-pitching instead of pounding the zone. But those guys need to be strikeouts, not walks.”
In came Tom Wilhelmsen to face the teeth of the Padres’ lineup: Matt Kemp and Justin Upton. Shortstop Chris Taylor booted Kemp’s grounder for an error. One run scored, the bases were still loaded.
Upton struck out by chasing a full-count slider out of the zone, but Yangervis Solarte punched a two-run single into center. The Padres cut the deficit to 7-3.
Wilhelmsen stopped it there by striking out Jedd Gyorko.
The Mariners answered with Zunino’s second homer of the game, a two-run shot to left against reliever Frank Garces. Justin Ruggiano followed with his first homer as a Mariner on a line drive to left.
The seven-run lead was back at 10-3.
Nelson Cruz iced the came in the eighth by hitting his 15th homer, which leads the majors. It was the Mariners’ fourth consecutive victory and their biggest winning margin of the season.
“In the end,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “talent will play out. And we have talent on this club. We have guys with track records. What the numbers say in the book are going to come to fruition.
“I think you can start to see that.”
Kennedy (2-2) gave up only one run after the first inning before exiting with one on and two outs in the fifth. His final line showed five runs and eight hits.
The Mariners came out swinging in the first inning.
Seth Smith led off with a drive off the right-field wall that was, if anything, hit too hard. Kemp played the carom perfectly and made a strong throw to second that nailed Smith.
For Kennedy, it was just a temporary reprieve.
Brad Miller followed with a drive to deep right that hopped the wall for a double. Robinson Cano then lined an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead. Cano moved to second when Cruz walked.
Both scored when Seager crushed a 1-0 fastball over the right-field wall for a three-run homer and a 4-0 lead.
“The backbreaker,” Padres manager Bud Black said, “was the fastball that didn’t get quite away from Seager. In this park, pull hitters, left-handed, can do some damage.”
The four-run burst was the Mariners’ biggest first inning since May 27, 2013 — against the Padres.
“We’ve been swinging the bats better the last couple of days,” Seager said. “Obviously, we had a little bit extra tonight. It was good.”