Then new manager Bob Melvin found Winn’s comfort zone—the seventh spot in the lineup.
Winn will look to continue his turnaround when the Mariners play the middle game of their series against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
Winn drove in three runs and Ichiro Suzuki had four hits as the Mariners belted out a season-high 17 hits in an 8-3 win in the series opener on Tuesday.
After the Mariners agreed to let Piniella leave his contract early to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the teams agreed on Winn, a career .279 hitter, as compensation. Winn enjoyed a career year last season, hitting .298 with 39 doubles, nine triples, 14 homers and 75 RBIs.
However, Winn got off to a lackluster start with the Mariners, batting .245 with three RBIs and just six extra-base hits over the first 26 games.
Then Melvin dropped Winn from the second spot in the order to seventh.
He has since flourished.
Winn had a two-run triple and an RBI single Tuesday as Seattle won for the seventh time in its last 10. He is batting .419 (13-for-31) with eight RBIs and seven runs in the eight games he has batted seventh.
“We’ll ride that wave until it runs its course,” Melvin said. “It’s working for us, and I think we’ll stick with it for a while.”
The Indians, who fell to 5-11 at home, have lost two straight and five of seven. They’re just 1-12 against teams with winning records.
“We had some early opportunities to score more runs and we didn’t,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge, whose team stranded seven runners in the first four innings. “When you get an early lead against a good team you have to expand it.”
STANDINGS: Mariners - 1st place (tied), AL West. Indians - 4th place, 12 GB, AL Central.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Freddy Garcia (3-4, 5.40 ERA). Garcia is coming off his worst start of the season, allowing nine runs and seven hits over 2 2-3 innings in Thursday’s 16-5 loss to the New York Yankees. The 26-year-old right-hander was 2-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his three previous starts. Garcia is 3-1 with 3.27 ERA in seven career starts against Cleveland.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Davis (2-4, 7.20 ERA). Davis rebounded from an 0-2 start with two straight wins. However, the 23-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.66 ERA in his last three starts, including Thursday’s 7-1 loss to the Anaheim Angels in which he surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings. Davis will be making his first career start against Seattle.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mariners - Edgar Martinez, .336 avg.; Martinez and Bret Boone, 7 HRs; Mike Cameron, 26 RBIs; Boone, 28 runs; Suzuki, 6 SBs. Indians - Milton Bradley, .330 avg.; Matt Lawton, 6 HRs; Ellis Burks, 20 RBIs; Omar Vizquel, 19 runs; Bradley, Vizquel, Brandon Phillips and Lawton, 2 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 4-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - OF Suzuki is batting .341 over his last 19 games, raising his average from .250 to .299. In 10 games this month, he’s hitting .442 with seven multihit games. … The Mariners are 11-2 against the AL Central. … Melvin said RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki is beginning to resemble the pitcher he was before a sore lower back landed him on the 15-day DL. Indians - OF Lawton is batting .300 with one double, one homer and four RBIs in 20 career at-bats against RHP Garcia. … OF Bradley was moved into the cleanup spot on Tuesday for the first time this season. He batted .375 (30-for-375) in 19 games as a leadoff hitter. … Cleveland is 0-10 against West Coast teams (Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim).
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 10-6 on the road; Indians - 5-11 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - OF Chris Snelling (knee), 15-day DL. Indians - OF Karim Garcia (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Cliff Lee (abdomen), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbows), 60-day DL; INF Ricky Gutierrez (neck), 60-day DL.