Before a 4-2 victory in the series opener Friday, Saunders was limited to coming off the bench after his right middle fingernail was spiked on a pickoff play in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs a week earlier.
The time off proved beneficial for Saunders as he hit his first home run since May 4 and drove in a pair of runs while helping end the Reds’ three-game win streak. He had four RBIs in his previous 48 games.
“You don’t realize how much you need something so small until you hurt it,” Saunders told the team’s website. “To hurt my fingertip, it doesn’t sound like anything that would cause too much trouble. But with what we do, our hands are everything, and it’s made me realize how important your fingernail or fingertip really is.”
The Mariners (38-48) are 3-1 on a six-game road trip after dropping nine of 13. Seattle looks to keep its successful trek going by improving to 5-0 all-time in Cincinnati and 10-1 overall against the Reds (49-37).
Jeremy Bonderman (1-2, 4.05 ERA) will try to help while bouncing back from his shortest outing since returning to the majors. The right-hander gave up six runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 7-6 loss to the Cubs on Sunday after posting a 1.42 ERA in his prior four starts.
Bonderman was pounded for seven runs in three innings of a 9-4 loss in his only start against the Reds on May 19, 2006 while with Detroit. He has never pitched in Cincinnati.
Mat Latos (7-2, 3.03) has gone 1-2 in his last three starts despite a 2.79 ERA, getting four total runs of support and none in two of the three games.
The right-hander gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Texas on Sunday. He committed a throwing error on a squeeze play in the fifth inning that allowed a second run to score.
Raul Ibanez batting .370 with seven homers during an 11-game hit streak, is 0 for 11 with four strikeouts all-time versus Latos, his worst showing against any active pitcher. Brendan Ryan is 5 for 7 with a double against Latos.
Shin-Soo Choo has the most experience against Bonderman among Reds players, going 4 for 13 with three doubles and a home run. Choo’s RBI double in the fifth inning Friday was one of four Cincinnati hits with two outs.
The Reds entered the game last in the major leagues with a .178 average with runners in scoring position and two outs.
“We have to get some two-out hits,” manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official website. “We had some action. It’s kind of been haunting us all year.”