OAKLAND -- Franklin Gutierrez has been swinging a hot bat for the Mariners in the second half of the season, but Stefen Romero stepped in for the injured Gutierrez in the third inning of Friday's 11-8 victory and delivered two key hits -- including a two-run homer -- as Seattle continued its season mastery of the A's.
Romero, a September callup looking to take advantage of any opportunity he gets, hit his first home run since June 3 of last season to give Seattle a 9-5 lead in the fourth after he'd delivered an RBI single in his first at-bat in the third.
"Obviously, you'd like more nights like tonight," said Romero. "That would be nice. But I just want to stick with my approach and, for the most part, just give good at-bats and show the staff and front office, hey, I'm a guy that will work my butt off and go out there and be competitive and ultimately compete for them."
Gutierrez left the game in the second inning after experiencing tightness in his right groin muscle. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he didn't think the injury was serious, but Gutierrez will be re-evaluated on Saturday. He's been one of the better comeback stories in baseball this season, hitting .311 with an MLB-leading .641 slugging percentage in 45 games after missing all last year with health issues.
Romero, 26, hit .192 in 72 games for Seattle last year as a rookie, but McClendon feels he's benefitted from another full year in Triple-A Tacoma, where he batted .292 with 17 homers and 79 RBIs in 476 at-bats.
"He's just a guy coming up with a lot of at-bats and he can hit," McClendon said. "It's hard for young players to come into the big leagues when they don't get consistent at-bats. He's got close to 400 at-bats under his belt and he's swinging accordingly."
Romero is 3-for-7 (.429) in two games since being called up on Tuesday and he agreed that getting consistent playing time in Tacoma helped.
"When you have 400-plus at-bats, you want to stick to one approach," said the former Oregon State standout. "Even if you fail at that approach, you're going to succeed more often than not. Coming up here I wanted to stick to the approach I had at Triple-A and so far, I feel like I've had good at-bats and my approach has been solid."
He was ready to jump on a first-pitch fastball from Fernando Abad in the fourth and drove it over the fence in center field with a shot projected to land 404 feet from home plate by Statcast™ after Kyle Seager had led off the inning with a base hit.
"I knew I hit it well," Romero said. "Seager said he was busting his butt off first base in case it hit off the wall. But I knew it had a really good chance and fortunately it did."
Seager, who went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBIs of his own, was impressed with how Romero responded when needed after Gutierrez was pulled.
"He kind of got ambushed there with Guti going down," Seager said. "But first at-bat, he goes in there and gets an RBI single and then he goes oppo for the homer. Those aren't easy, especially when you're not expecting to get in the game that early. Just to be prepared and stick with the plan, that was pretty special."