SEATTLE — There’s a bit of swag these days about the Mariners, who have won four straight series as they prepare to open a three-game weekend set Friday against Kansas City at Safeco Field.
It isn’t just that shortstop Ketel Marte is on a 13-for-30 surge over the last seven games. Or that he’s raised his average more than 100 points in that span to .288. It’s what comes along with a productive Marte.
"When he gets on the bases," manager Scott Servais said, "and the energy gets flowing, you can just see that it picks up our club. The confidence is coming. Defensively as well as at the plate.
"He’s kind of our guy with the swag on the bases. I want him to create havoc and let the other team know he’s out there. He certainly has done that recently."
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Marte, 22, struggled through the season’s first two weeks. It appeared the sophomore jinx was already taking hold after two encouraging months last season that prompted the Mariners to view him as a lineup fixture.
"I’ve made some adjustments to see the ball better," he said. "And when I get my pitch, that’s what I do. I hit in the cage every day. I work with Robby (Cano) and (hitting coach) Edgar Martinez. They’ve helped me a lot.
"And I’ve watched the video from last year, which I think helped. That made me better. I’m just trying to be the same from last year. I watched the video to see what I did last year, and I think that’s why I’ve been better."
Cano might be Marte’s biggest booster.
"That’s a guy I know (is going to be good)," Cano said. "I’ve been telling guys all the time that the more you play, the more you learn. He’s one of those guys, the more he plays, the better he gets."
And the swag — think of it as speed with an attitude — becomes more prominent.
Marte’s dash from first to home on a Cano single on April 16 in a 3-2 victory at New York was a highlight moment.
Similarly, Marte scored what proved to be the winning run in Monday’s victory over Houston, also 3-2, by breaking from third base and forcing an errant throw after the Astros had Cano trapped in a rundown.
"I think we’ve seen, as a few hits have dropped in," Servais said, "(Marte’s) confidence has grown. He looks much more sure of himself. Not just in the batter’s box but defensively as well. Which is pretty normal for all young players.
"I think he feels like he belongs. He’s part of the team. And a big part of our team in the middle of the field. It’s nice to see. It’s going to be streaky. I get it. But we’re riding a good streak right now."
The swag is showing.
"It’s part of the game," Marte said. "I’m just trying to see what I can do. And then try to do it. I started out with a little struggle. But you can see now, I’m good. I feel comfortable."
Second baseman Robinson Cano, through Wednesday, led the American League with eight home runs and 24 RBIs. No other AL player had more than 19 RBIs.
"I’m not trying (to hit home runs)," he said, "but it’s good. It’s always good to start the season good. It helps the team win games.
"You look back to my first season (with the Mariners, 2014), we weren’t winning series in the first month, and we ended up not making (postseason) by one game. The first month of the season means a lot.
"You go into May, and you’re in the fight. When you start the season like we did last year, it’s hard to bounce back and be in the race."
Cano’s career highs in homers and RBIs came with the New York Yankees: 33 homers in 2012, and 118 RBIs in 2011.
Triple-A Tacoma lefty James Paxton was picked as the Canadian Baseball Network player of the week after winning two starts while giving up only one unearned run over 11 1/3 innings.
The CBN makes its weekly selection from the 58 Canadian-born players in the minor leagues or playing in foreign lands.
Lo-A Clinton first baseman Dalton Kelly is on a 16-for-33 surge over his last eight games, which has boosted his average to .381 with a .451 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage.
The Mariners selected Kelly, 21, in the 38th round of last year’s draft after he played three seasons at California-Santa Barbara.
It was 30 years ago Friday — April 29, 1986 — that Boston right-hander Roger Clemens set a major-league record for a nine-inning game by striking out 20 Mariners in a 3-1 victory at Fenway Park.
Phil Bradley struck out four times, including No. 20 for the second out in the ninth inning. Twenty strikeouts remains a record for a nine-inning game, although it has now been done four times.
Clemens matched his record 10 years later while pitching for Boston at Detroit. Kerry Wood struck out 20 for the Chicago Cubs in a 1998 victory over Houston, and Randy Johnson had 20 strikeouts for Arizona in 2001 against Cincinnati.
The record for strikeouts in a game is 21 by Tom Cheney for the Washington Senators on Sept. 12, 1962 over 16 innings in a 2-1 victory at Baltimore.
Wednesday’s 7-4 loss to the Astros marked the Mariners’ first loss when they scored at least four runs. They are now 8-1 when they do so…first baseman Adam Lind is batting .324 (14-for-41) in 12 games since April 13 after a 1-for-17 start in his first six games…the Mariners have hit at least one homer in seven straight games. Through Wednesday, they led the American League with 29 overall…the Mariners’ bullpen, through Wednesday, ranked fourth among AL clubs with a 2.59 ERA. That was one slot ahead of Kansas City’s vaunted reliever corps at 2.62. Chicago led the league at 1.32.
The Mariners open a three-game weekend series against World Series-champion Kansas City at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (1-2 with a 1.80 ERA) will face Royals right-hander Kris Medlen (1-1, 6.00). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
A reminder: Saturday’s game will start at 7:10 p.m., which is one hour later than originally scheduled. The Mariners made the switch over access concerns resulting from the Sounders’ afternoon game and the closing of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners