[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”3770342334001″/]
Note: Endy Chavez got three stitches above his left eye and has a scrap on his nose his helmet collided with the knee of Elvis Andrus and his face collided with the helmet. Asked if he will play tomorrow, Chavez said, “I will know when I wake up.”
The Mariners have patiently waited for Kendrys Morales to come around. Looking to bolster a sagging offense and add a presence to the middle of the order, Seattle reacquired Morales on July 24 in trade with the Twins.
Only the Morales they got back has yet to produce quite like the Morales they saw all of last season – the one who batted .272 with 22 homers and 73 RBI last season.
Much of it has to do with going unsigned and missing spring training and the first two and half months of the season. He’s never really recovered. Morales came into Friday’s game with a .213 batting average with three homers, five doubles, 17 RBI and a .590 on-base plus slugging percentage since joining the Mariners.
But for one night, the old Morales was back and that should give the Mariners spme added hope.
Morales belted a pair of two-run homers to lead another productive offensive attack for Seattle in a 7-5 win over the Texas Rangers. With the Tigers losing to the Giants, the Mariners (77-63) took a half game lead over Detroit (77-64) in the race for the second wild card.
It was big game for Morales, who had hit just .184 (7-for-38) with one extra base hit in his last 10 games.
“I’m still making adjustments at the plate and I’m starting to get comfortable,” Morales said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “It’s tough. I haven’t gotten there as fast as I would’ve liked, but hopefully today is a starting point.”
To manager Lloyd McClendon, it isn’t just about the numbers for Morales’ importance.
“He’s already done a lot for the lineup,” McClendon said. “It’s not all black and white for what a guy does for a lineup. He stretches our lineup out quite a bit. He brings some respectably to our lineup.”
Could he be getting hot at just the right time?
“I thought he was coming,” McClendon said. “The bat speed has been getting better and better.”
The Mariners don’t need Morales to be a home run hitter – just a productive hitter. It could be a huge factor in the final 22 games of the season.
Morales belted his first two-run shot off of Rangers’ starter Scott Baker in the second inning. Kyle Seager drew a leadoff walk and Morales got a hold of a 2-2 sinker and pulled it into the right field seats.
The Mariners hit two more homers off of Baker in the fourth inning, ending his outing. Mike Zunino launched a solo homer to right-center to make it 3-0. It was his 20th homer of the season, setting a club record for most home runs in a season by a catcher, passing the previous mark of 19 held by Miguel Olivo.
Endy Chavez followed with a single and Brad Miller yanked a line drive over the wall in right field for his 10th homer of the season to make it 5-0.
A five-run lead was nice cushion for Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who gave the Mariners a decent performance to improve 14-6. It wasn’t his typical efficient brilliance – he actually walked a batter. Iwakuma threw 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with the walk and five strikeouts. Far from dominating numbers, but thanks to a second-straight game of high run support from the offense, it didn’t matter.
McClendon felt like Iwakuma was being squeezed by home plate umpire Paul Nauert. Mike Zunino also agreed.
Iwakuma gave up RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings as the Rangers cut the lead to 5-2.
But Morales gave him back some cushion in sixth inning. Seager again drew a walk ahead of him and Morales capitalized, whacking a hanging slider from Shawn Tolleson deep into the right field stands. It was 12th multi-homer game of his career and his third at the hitter-friendly stadium now known as Globe Life Park.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play here a lot in my career and I’ve had a lot of success here,” he said.
Iwakuma started the sixth inning and gave up a single to Adrian Beltre and then recorded an out. McClendon turned it over to the bullpen not wanting to take any chances. Charlie Furbush came in and retired Rougned Odor. McClendon continued to go situational, bringing in Brandon Maurer to face right-hander Adam Rosales. But Maurer left a slider up on a 3-2 count and Rosales slammed it over the wall in left field for a two-run homer to cut it to 7-4.
Fernando Rodney made things interesting giving up a run in the ninth, and allowing another base runner to bring the tying run to the plate. But managed to get Ryan Rua to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game and notch his 42nd save.
“That was one of those tough games to manage because so many things could go wrong,” McClendon said. “We pulled it out.”