Homers by Haniger, Vogelbach rally Mariners past A’s 7-4
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) – Mitch Haniger understands his time batting in the cleanup spot of Seattle’s batting order is likely ending soon.
No better way to finish up a stint filling in for Nelson Cruz than with a game-deciding home run.
“I don’t care where I hit,” Haniger said. “That’s Nelson’s spot and I think everybody knows that.”
Haniger hit a three-run homer and Daniel Vogelbach added a two-run shot – both with two outs in the seventh inning – rallying the Mariners to a 7-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
Seattle took advantage of a breakdown by Oakland’s bullpen for five runs in the seventh. Yusmeiro Petit retired the first two batters before Jean Segura reached on a single with two outs. Lefty specialist Danny Coulombe (0-1) walked Robinson Cano, and Chris Hatcher was summoned to face Haniger.
After evening the count at 2-2, Hatcher and catcher Jonathan Lucroy briefly met at the mound to discuss the next pitch to Haniger. Their decision was the wrong one as Haniger clubbed his third homer of the season.
“Every cutter I threw him kind of backed up on me,” Hatcher said. “I’ve got to be more aggressive and make better pitches. That’s his nitro zone, and he hit it pretty good.”
Haniger has been the No. 4 hitter in Seattle’s lineup since Cruz went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle the first weekend of the season. Cruz is expected back as early as Saturday, meaning Haniger can drop deeper into Seattle’s lineup.
“(Haniger’s) been really good, really consistent for us, but he’s not Nelson Cruz. But he’s certainly proving to be worthy of hitting behind (Cano),” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “A lot of big clutch RBIs, deep in counts, continues to battle and it getting good results right now.”
Seattle’s big inning wasn’t done as Kyle Seager followed with a single and Vogelbach turned on the first pitch from Hatcher for his first career homer.
It was the second time in the young season the Mariners put up five runs in an inning.
Khris Davis hit two home runs for Oakland, a two-run shot in the first and a solo homer in the eighth inning. Matt Chapman added a solo homer in the sixth inning, his fifth of the season, off Seattle starter Mike Leake to snap a 2-all tie.
“When he gets a couple hits, he’s off to the races. It’s not a surprise to us,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Davis. “It’s impressive to hit balls out here when it’s cold to right and center field. Not too many guys in the league do that.”
Aside from the home runs allowed, Leake pitched well, giving up three earned runs and striking out four over six innings. Leake has eight straight starts of at least five innings pitched and allowing three or fewer earned runs. He was matched by Oakland starter Andrew Triggs, who allowed four straight hits and two runs in the first inning, but settled down to allow just one hit after that point.
The difference was Seattle’s bullpen. Dan Altavilla (1-1) pitched the seventh, Juan Nicasio allowed Davis’ homer in the eighth but was otherwise untouched, and Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Athletics: RHP Liam Hendriks left the game in the eighth inning in the middle of an at-bat due to injury. He faced two batters. … RHP Ryan Dull has rejoined the club and could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Saturday. Dull has been on the 10-day DL since March 26 with a strained right shoulder. Dull was 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA in 49 games with the A’s last year. Two years ago, he was a top reliever appearing in 70 games with a 2.42 ERA.
Mariners: Cruz has been out since spraining his ankle slipping on the dugout steps during Seattle’s opening homestand against Cleveland. … C Mike Zunino (oblique) will likely need a couple of games on a rehab assignment before he’s brought off the disabled list. … 1B Ryon Healy is recovering quicker than expected from his sprained ankle and could be back sooner than the initial estimate of 2-to-3 weeks.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (0-2) has allowed 14 runs in his first three starts and has yet to pitch at least five innings. Graveman has allowed five home runs, tied for the most in baseball.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales (1-1) lasted just 2 1/3 innings and gave up eight hits and four earned runs in his last start against Kansas City.