Mariners 5, White Sox 2
SEATTLE (AP)—Richie Sexson is a home run hitter, he doesn’t mess around much with singles.
The Mariners’ extra bases-or-bust slugger hit a two-run home run to give Seattle the lead for good and Jarrod Washburn allowed two singles and two solo home runs in seven innings to lead the surging Mariners to their sixth victory in seven games, 5-2 over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
Sexson hit the first pitch he saw from Javier Vazquez (2-1) in fourth inning for his homer, a rising liner that had the scoreboard flashing and music blaring even before the ball zoomed over the left-center field fence.
Ten of Sexson’s 11 hits this season have been for extra bases, and the historically slow starter batted just .145 in April.
After Sexson’s latest shot, Hargrove chuckled at the singles drought and Seattle’s homer-reliant offense.
“I had a question the other day, ‘Did you realize half your runs this year have scored on home runs?’,” Hargrove said, incredulously. “Is that bad?”
Not for Sexson. Four of his 10 hits are home runs and he shares the team lead with 15 RBIs.
The Mariners remained in second place in the AL West. A modest achievement for May 1, but it’s been four years since the Mariners were above third-place this far into a season. In 2003, they spent May in first before eventually finishing the season with 93 wins and second place, three games behind Oakland.
Sexson would have had his 17th RBI on a sacrifice fly that traveled about 400 feet to straightaway center field in the sixth. But Adrian Beltre hesitated before leaving third base, and Raul Ibanez was tagged out trying to sneak to second base before Beltre reached home for an inning-ending double play.
“With the exception of getting hit by a taxi on the field, that was the topper with the month I’ve been having,” Sexson said.
“May’s going to be a lot better.”
Washburn (2-2) struck out four and walked one in his second consecutive stellar start. On April 25 at Oakland, he threw a three-hit shutout.
“With all due respect, all the pitchers that pitch against the White Sox right now look like Cy Young,” Guillen said.
Washburn’s ERA through five starts is 2.88. Last season, he was 8-14 with a 4.67 ERA in his Seattle debut, which he called perhaps the worst season of his nine-year career.
“Last year, I didn’t show what I was capable of,” the former Angel said. “I was the first one to tell you I was disappointed in my year. Now, I’m off to a good start—but it’s a long year.”
Luis Terrero, promoted from Triple-A Charlotte earlier in the day to replace slumping and demoted Brian Anderson, hit the third pitch he saw from Washburn eight rows into the left-field bleachers in the third inning gave Vazquez a 1-0 lead.
He allowed six hits and four runs in his 7 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
After Sexson’s home run gave Seattle the lead, A.J. Pierzynski golfed a 2-2 pitch by Washburn off the bottom of the foul pole beyond right field for his fourth home run. That made it 3-2—more than enough for Brandon Morrow and Putz.
Morrow, the fifth overall choice in last June’s draft, has supplanted veteran Chris Reitsma as Seattle’s primary setup man. The rookie relieved in the eighth and struck out pinch-hitters Darin Erstad and Alex Cintron on fastballs. After walking Tadahito Iguchi, Morrow knocked Jermaine Dye to the ground with a 94 mph fastball under his chin, then struck him out looking at a 97 mph fastball.
The usually mild-mannered Morrow said recent advice from Putz to get mean in late-game situations has helped him to a scoreless streak of 7 1-3 innings.
“J.J. got me to abandon the Zen attitude and go with something a little different,” Morrow said.
Vazquez was denied his first 3-0 start since 2000 when he was with Montreal. … The Mariners were without C Kenji Johjima and RF Jose Guillen. Johjima has back spasms. He is likely to play Wednesday. Jamie Burke got the start for him and doubled in the third. Guillen got the day off because manager Mike Hargrove said he wanted to get Ben Broussard a start.