May 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM
Saunders provides fast start for Mariners
TORONTO – Adjustments were made to the Mariners’ lineup because they were facing Blue Jays’ knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey on Saturday.
But it was a fastball that started the Mariners on the right foot in their 8-1 victory at Rogers Centre.
Michael Saunders hit the second pitch of the game for a home run and it came on an 81-mile-an hour fastball from Dickey.
“I’ve never faced Dickey before and he started the game off with a heater for ball one,” Saunders said. “After that I pretty much sat fastball. He gave me a pitch to hit and I wasn`t trying to do too much and my approach today was more like playing pepper, just trying to get the barrel on the ball. His ball was dancing quite a bit. When I saw the first-pitch fastball I was just sitting dead-red fastball on the second pitch.”
He hit it out of the park for his second leadoff homer of his career and his second this season.
Saunders is from Victoria, B.C., which is a long way from Rogers Centre.
But he has family in the Toronto area and during visits as a youngster a Blue Jays game would be on the agenda. But he is at a loss to explain his success at Rogers Centre.
He hit two solo home runs and had a run-scoring double on Saturday. It was his fourth career multi-homer game and his second at Rogers Centre. The other was April 27, 2012.
Saunders has five home runs, four doubles and 11 RBIs in his past 10 games at Rogers Centre dating to Sept. 22, 2010.
“I don`t know, just another place,” Saunders said. “Sometimes it`s weird like that. Pitchers, hitters, they have their places or their teams or what it may be. I don`t know, to be honest. I see the ball well I guess. “
“He had a big day for us,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He just brings a lot of energy and intensity to the top of our lineup, our lineup in general, whether it be a left-hander on the mound, a right-hander on the mound, he’s going to put up spirited at-bats.”
Saunders’ homer in the fifth was on a knuckleball and so was the biggest hit of the game, Dustin Ackley’s first career grand slam with two out in the fourth on a 3-2 pitch.
“He’s definitely tough, you never know what the knuckleball is going to do,” Ackley said. “That one for me didn’t do a whole lot. I was just trying to barrel it. I just said he’s going to throw a strike, he’s not going to try to walk me. I just told myself to let it get as deep as I could and try to put a put a good swing on it. When I hit it, it was kind of disbelief at first that I hit it as well as I did.”
The roof was open on Saturday on a sunny day about 60 degrees.
“The ball carries here,” Dickey said. “It just does. It’s part of this place. It’s a very hitter friendly park. It always has been. You just got to find a way to keep the ball down and throw good knuckleballs in big situations.”