Not just a table-setter: Martin's tear continues

Not just a table-setter: Martin's tear continues

SEATTLE -- Manager Scott Servais moved Leonys Martin into the leadoff role three games ago, but the athletic center fielder cleared the table instead of setting it on Tuesday with a dramatic two-run walkoff homer as the Mariners topped the A's, 6-5, at Safeco Field.

Martin has been on a tear of late, hitting .500 (14-of-28) with four homers, five walks and seven run scored in his last eight games. That earned him a promotion from No. 9 in the order to the top spot last weekend and he was in the right spot at the right time to deliver the game-winner as Seattle rallied from a 5-2 deficit over the final two frames.

"As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it was going to be gone," Martin said. "I crushed that ball. I was just trying to put the ball in play."

Martin has a career-high nine homers in 43 games, not bad for a guy the Mariners signed because he's a terrific defensive center fielder and they wanted to get more athletic in Safeco Field.

"He's got a quick bat," Servais said. "He's hitting a few more fly balls this year than he normally does. The ball is carrying. He's an electric player. You see it on the bases, you see it in the outfield, the way the ball jumps off his bat. You never quite know what's going to happen."

Martin fell behind 1-2 to closer Ryan Madson on three changeups. But with Servais and the bench yelling at him to slow things down at the plate, the 29-year-old got hold of a fourth straight change and launched a moon shot into the right field seats that Statcast™ projected at 394 feet.

"My Spanish isn't very good, but I was saying, 'Suave, suave,' slow down," Servais said. "Robbie [Cano] was yelling at him. Leonys is a very fiery, high-energy player and when those situations arise, you've got to slow it down a little bit. He hit the tar out of it. It was a changeup that was up and he put a great swing on it. Even in Safeco Field, that one was going out."

Martin called the walkoff homer "the best feeling in baseball" and credited his new teammates for a never-say-die attitude that has propelled them to the AL West lead at 27-18. Without a two-out double by Norichika Aoki that just eluded a diving Coco Crisp in left field, his moment to shine never would have happened.

"We never give up. That's the thing," he said. "We fight every single at-bat. Nori got on base at the right moment."

Servais on the walk-off win

And Martin ended it with the perfect swing at the perfect time, leading to an eruption in the Mariners dugout.

"It was just pure excitement," said Mike Montgomery, the winning pitcher after 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. "He was down two strikes and we were just saying, 'Put the ball in play, base hit.' And he just launched it. We just all lost it. It's one of the best plays in sports."

The Mariners have three walkoff homers already this season, with Martin joining Chris Iannetta and Dae-Ho Lee. Seattle has won nine of its last 10 one-run decisions.

"That's about as excited as I've seen our dugout," Servais said. "We've had a few moments like that already this year, but this was probably bigger than any. We needed this at home. Our fans again, late in the game, were on their feet, which was great to see. They recognized it. They're into the game. They didn't go home when we were down 5-2. They hung in there and our players appreciate it. It's nice to pay them back."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.