SEATTLE (AP) — Mike Zunino’s retooled swing following a demotion to the minors paid its biggest dividend yet for the surging Seattle Mariners.
Zunino hit his second homer of the game with two outs in the ninth inning, a two-run shot that gave the Mariners a 6-5 comeback victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
Kyle Seager and Carlos Ruiz also homered for the Mariners, who overcame a three-run deficit and won for the ninth time in 10 games.
“Really excited for Mike Zunino. Everybody knows the ability he has, but to try to see him get the performance,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s worked his tail off. He’s bought into kind of the new swing mechanics and he should, because he’s getting great results right now.”
Ben Gamel singled with two outs in the ninth off closer Brandon Kintzler (2-1). Zunino, who hit a solo shot in the third, sent a 2-1 pitch over the center-field wall for his fourth home run.
“A guy gets a ground-ball hit and then I left one pitch up and a guy hits a homer,” Kintzler said. “I didn’t know he could go the other way like that. I left a pitch out over the plate and he did what he’s supposed to do with it.”
Zunino’s early-season struggles resulted in a two-week stint at Triple-A Tacoma. But he’s hitting .302 with four home runs, four doubles and 15 RBIs in 13 games since being recalled May 22.
“That’s sort of the swing that the last month I’ve been trying to get to,” Zunino said. “Obviously, the pitch is going to dictate where you hit it. But, got into a spot with a guy that you know has a good sinker and he likes to stay away and I was just trying to elevate it. I was able to get that pitch and stay inside it and just drive it that way.”
After trailing 5-2, the Mariners scored once in the fifth and pulled to 5-4 in the sixth on Seager’s seventh homer.
Miguel Sano’s three-run homer capped a four-run fifth against Seattle starter Yovani Gallardo — all with two outs. Ehire Adrianza doubled and Brian Dozier walked. Joe Mauer hit an RBI single to tie it 2-all, and Sano followed with his 15th homer.
Seattle got a run back in the fifth after Zunino walked and Ruiz was hit by a pitch. Zunino advanced to third on Guillermo Heredia’s flyout to center and came home on Tyler Smith’s sacrifice fly.
Gallardo gave up five runs and six hits, but bounced back after the Twins’ outburst to complete a season-high seven innings. James Pazos pitched the eighth and Edwin Diaz (2-2) worked a scoreless inning for the win.
Zunino and Ruiz, batting eighth and ninth, opened the third with consecutive homers to put Seattle up 2-1. Zunino lined the first pitch of the inning to left field. Ruiz, filling in at designated hitter for ailing Nelson Cruz, followed with a drive into the upper deck in left for his first home run of the season.
Dozier had an RBI single in the third.
“This game, it can turn,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You’ve got to play it out. Kintz has been really good, but a lot of the damage that was done was when we got behind hitters. He gets behind 2-0 and they get a base hit up the middle, then he gets behind 2-0 and the guy hits a homer. You get these testers once in a while, and when you can’t close the game out, which we’ve done a pretty good job of for the most part, they’re tough.”
GAMEL STAYS HOT
Gamel, who moved into the starting lineup when Mitch Haniger went on the disabled list, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. During that span, he is batting .410 with seven runs, raising his average to .319 since being called up from Triple-A on April 26.
Minnesota put SS Jorge Polanco on the bereavement list following the death of his grandfather. 1B Kennys Vargas was recalled from Triple-A Rochester.
Twins: LHP Hector Santiago, who allowed five runs with four walks over 2 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s 12-3 loss at Seattle, was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain.
Mariners: Cruz, bothered by a sore right calf for more than a week, had an MRI. “I don’t know how long he’s going to be out. Maybe a day or two. He’s got something going on there, just a tightness in the calf,” Servais said.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (2-4, 7.23 ERA) starts the finale of the three-game series Thursday night. Gibson has won two of his last three outings, but hasn’t lasted more than 5 2/3 innings in any of his nine starts.
Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (3-2, 4.36) makes his sixth start since being called up May 7. He has won his last two, pitching seven scoreless innings at Boston and then giving up two runs in six innings against Tampa Bay.
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