ARLINGTON, Texas -- The two-step continued in Texas. The Mariners' nonstop, second-half dance around the .500 mark has move two steps ahead the past two days for an even 73-73 record after the 8-1 trouncing Wednesday of the Rangers at Globe Life Park.
Seattle's offense continued to torment Texas pitching for a second consecutive night, banging out 11 hits, including three homers -- two by Mike Zunino.
Over the past two games, the Mariners have scored 18 runs on 26 hits as they try to hit their way into the wild-card race.
The run support was more than enough for the Seattle pitchers. Mike Leake improved to 3-0 in three starts as a Mariner. The veteran right-hander pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts. The bullpen didn't allow a run as four pitchers -- James Pazos, Emilio Pagan, Marc Rzepczynski and Edwin Diaz -- combined to pitch the final 3 1/3 innings without allowing a run or much of a scoring threat.
While both of his homers were solo, giving him a career high 23 homers on the season, Zunino's first home run seemed to awaken a Mariners' offense that had looked tentative in the first four innings against Rangers' starter Martin Perez.
In the fifth inning, Zunino made a lunging swing at the 1-0 curveball that was below the zone. But in another example of his freakish strength -- some players say they believe he's stronger than Nelson Cruz -- Zunino launched the 78-mph pitch into left field. The ball rocketed through the warm evening air and kept going onto the second level of the left-field stands -- known as the club deck.
The ball landed in the fourth row of the seats. It was a prodigious blast considering the lack of speed on the pitch and the swing Zunino needed to put the barrel on it. MLB statcast measured the blast at 470 feet with an exit velocity of 111.3 mph. It was the longest statcast measured homer of his career, eclipsing the previous high of 463 feet, which also came off Perez.
Later in the inning, Jean Segura hit a relatively impressive shot to left field for a two-run homer and a 3-0 lead, but it only traveled into in the first deck and measured 428 feet.
The Mariners put the game away in the seventh inning against the Rangers bullpen, scoring five runs. Moments after Robinson Cano was ejected by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza for arguing a check-swing call for strike three with runners on second and third, the Rangers intentionally walked Nelson Cruz. They were looking for the lefty vs. lefty matchup of Jake Diekman against Kyle Seager. But Seager, who hits any pitcher well in Globe Life Park, dumped a single into left field to score two runs. Cruz hustled on home on a bad throw from the outfield to make it 6-1. The Mariners added two more runs on Danny Valencia's sacrifice fly to center and Zunino's opposite field blast to right.
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