Meet the 2019 Seattle Mariners. Do you even know who they are?
Edwin Encarnación paused at the plate and watched while his 400th homer flew toward the Mariners’ bullpen beyond left field. He pumped his fists as he circled the bases while his teammates went wild for the milestone.
Although Seattle’s season has been mostly dismal, Encarnación has done his best to provide something to cheer. His latest power barrage even propelled the Mariners to a rare series win.
Encarnación hit two homers to become the third active player with 400 homers, and Tom Murphy added two more homers in the Mariners’ 9-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Encarnación and Daniel Vogelbach hit back-to-back homers in the sixth, and Encarnación added a solo shot in the seventh for his 35th career multihomer game and his second against the Angels this month.
Kyle Seager connected in the ninth for the Mariners’ sixth homer, their most in a game since May 12, 2015. Seattle took two of three from Los Angeles for its first series win since mid-May and its first road series victory since mid-April.
But the Mariners were focused on celebrating Encarnación, who also got his 1,200th career RBI in the process.
“I feel really good that I accomplished this,” Encarnación said. “I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.”
While becoming the 56th player in baseball history to hit 400 homers, Encarnación pushed into the AL lead with his 20th homer of the season. Even at 36 years old, Encarnación shows few signs of slowing: His 282 homers since 2012 are the most in the majors.
“What can you say (except) unbelievable,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said of the milestone. “There’s what, 19,000 guys that have played? Little disappointed nothing showed up on the (scoreboard) here, to be honest. But everybody in our dugout knew what was going on, how important it was to him. He’s been a true professional since we got him. Nothing but happy for him.”
Although his name frequently comes up in trade rumors around the struggling Mariners, he’s not planning beyond the next game and his next statistical goal, which might be 500 homers.
“We’ll see,” Encarnación said with a smile. “I’m ready for it, but I don’t think about that. I just try to keep winning.”
Tommy La Stella hit his 15th homer for the Angels, who have lost five of seven.
After the Mariners’ six-homer outburst, Los Angeles’ pitching staff has yielded 111 homers in 66 games this season. That’s more homers allowed than every team in the majors except Baltimore and Seattle.
Brad Ausmus was ejected for the first time in his tenure as the Angels’ manager for arguing about the strike zone of home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak after the third inning, when Mike Trout struck out looking.
“He’s just defending the team,” Trout said. “Things don’t go your way sometimes, and he’s trying to fire us up. That’s the way things go sometimes.”
The only other active members of the 400-homer club are Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols, who remained stuck on 644 homers after going 0 for 4 with two flyouts to the warning track in center.
Jose Suarez (1-1) yielded four hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings in his second big league start for the Angels. The lefty beat Seattle last weekend in his major league debut, but didn’t get 13 runs of support this time.
“It was a little bit more difficult this time,” Suarez said. “I kind of got in my head that they knew my game plan, because I saw them already this season. But I still just tried to stick to that game plan.”
Wilfredo Tovar doubled in the seventh for his first big league hit since 2014. The former Mets prospect, filling in for injured Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, was called up by the Angels for this series.
After opener Austin Adams struck out Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the first inning, Wade LeBlanc (3-2) pitched six innings of six-hit ball with eight strikeouts for his first victory since April 7.
“I got away with a couple of mistakes,” LeBlanc said. “But other than that, it was crisp.”
Ohtani went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts one day after homering off Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi in their first big league meeting.
Mariners: Dee Gordon (bruised wrist) is expected to join the club Tuesday in Minnesota.
Angels: Trevor Cahill went on the injured list with right elbow soreness, although he’s only expected to miss one start. Matt Harvey (back strain), the Halos’ other big free-agent pitcher signing, got hit hard in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday.
Mariners: After a day off, Mike Leake (5-6, 4.30 ERA) takes the mound in Minnesota against Martin Perez (7-2, 3.72).
Angels: Rookie Griffin Canning (2-2, 3.52 ERA) makes his eighth career start in the Freeway Series opener Monday night in Anaheim. The Halos must face dominant lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.35 ERA) for the Dodgers.