SEATTLE (AP) — Mike Zunino admitted that a year ago when he was struggling at the plate, he would have gotten too aggressive and chased one of the pitches out of the strike zone being offered by Tim Lincecum.
With more confidence and command of the zone, Zunino made Lincecum deliver a strike — and in turn delivered a decisive blow for the Mariners.
Zunino capped Seattle’s six-run first inning with a three-run home run off Lincecum, and the Mariners held on for a 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
After falling behind 0-2, Zunino fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches, then watched Lincecum miss low with three straight changeups. He didn’t miss the fourth changeup, thrown at his knees, golfing it into the bullpen beyond the left field wall.
“I probably would have chased a pitch or two in there and be over aggressive and not trust myself,” Zunino said. “It’s just a process of being in those situations in the minor leagues and trusting yourself, getting into an 0-2 count and being able to work it back.”
Seattle overcame a rough first from starter Felix Hernandez and rallied with its largest first-inning output since scoring seven runs on May 15, 2013 against the New York Yankees. Seattle sent up 10 batters and recorded seven hits against Lincecum (2-6), capped by Zunino’s sixth homer of the season.
Hernandez (6-4) settled down after giving up a three-run shot to Mike Trout in the first. He retired 12 of the next 13 after Trout’s 20th homer and picked up his second win since coming off the disabled list.
Hernandez gave up a double to Yunel Escobar on the first pitch of the game, Trout’s homer two batters later and a solo shot by Jett Bandy leading off the fifth. Otherwise, the Angels could not solve Hernandez, who struck out six and walked three. Hernandez completed eight innings for the first time since Sept. 10, 2015 against Texas.
Rookie Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the ninth for his third save in three chances, hitting triple digits more than once. Diaz now has 56 strikeouts in 28 innings since being called up from the minors.
“No chance. That was unbelievable. He’s got unbelievable stuff,” Hernandez said of Diaz.
Down 3-0, Seattle started its first inning with four straight singles, including an RBI base hit by Robinson Cano. After a pop out, Adam Lind singled and Leonys Martin’s sacrifice fly that was deep enough to score Cano from third.
Zunino followed with one of the more impressive at-bats of his young career.
Lincecum, a Seattle area native, made just his second career start at Safeco Field. He was already teetering in the Angels’ rotation, and Friday’s rough start could finally lead them to make a move. It was his third straight start giving up at least four earned runs and he almost didn’t make it out of the first inning. Lincecum finished 3 1/3 innings, giving up nine hits and six earned runs.
The six runs in the first were the most ever surrendered in a single inning by Lincecum.
“We’re going to have to sit down and review his video and see where the positives were and see what we are,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards has shown additional healing in the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Richards will begin internal-rotation exercises to test his readiness to begin throwing. Richards received a stem-cell injection in May in an attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte was scheduled to play six or seven innings in the field for Class A Everett on Friday. Marte has been on the disabled list since July 23 with mononucleosis and could be activated later this weekend.
Angels: Tyler Skaggs (1-0) makes his third start of the season. Skaggs got a no decision in his last start against Boston despite throwing 5 1/3 shutout innings.
Mariners: Taijuan Walker (4-7) returns from the disabled list to make his first start since July 5. Walker was sidelined by tendinitis in his right foot.
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