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Blowers: Mariners’ baserunning, not just speed, standing out

Mariners 2B Shed Long scored a big run in a 7-6 win Sunday over Houston. (Getty)

In the Mariners’ lone win of their season-opening series in Houston, the key run wasn’t scored on a homer or a hit into the gap. Instead, it came from something that hasn’t been a calling card for Seattle in many years but may become exactly that in 2020.

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Leadoff man Shed Long Jr. was able to score from second base on a single in the eighth inning, using not just his speed but also a spectacular slide to turn Kyle Lewis’ hit to right field into a two-run single that proved to be the difference as the Mariners held on for the 7-6 victory.

Former Mariners third baseman and longtime ROOT Sports color analyst Mike Blowers said Long’s running and slide to the back corner of home plate on that play is an example of something that has stood out about the young M’s team in the early days of the season.

“The way that they go about their business and how athletic they are really jumped out to me,” Blowers told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy on Tuesday. “When you watch these guys up and down the lineup being able to run, make plays on the bases, they ran the bases extremely well. I was really impressed with that.”

The Mariners have four steals in five games entering Wednesday’s game with the Angels, which is second in the American League and tied for third among all MLB teams. It’s about more than the stats that show up in the box score, however, as like with Long’s slide, Blowers said they’re showing an ability to take an extra base when presented with the opportunity.

“I saw (catcher) Austin Nola on a breaking ball that was in the dirt, he took off right away, he read that. It was textbook the way that he did it. That’s going to be a big part of their offense and I was really happy to see all of that.”

Speed, athleticism and base-running acumen are all things Blowers expected to be a strength for the M’s in 2020, and he’s glad to see manager Scott Servais has put in into the hands of his players to make that happen.

“I was hoping that would be the case and Scott is letting them run, he’s turning them loose,” Blowers said. “I think they’re on their own, they can run when they want to run. … He even said it after the game (Sunday), that even when they’re down two or three runs he still wants them to continue to run because that’s how they’re going to get back into games and I think we saw that over the weekend.”

Blowers had much more to say about the Mariners while on with Tom, Jake and Stacy, which you can hear in this podcast.

Follow’s Brent Stecker on Twitter.

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