Aoki kickstarts offense as small-ball shines

Aoki kickstarts offense as small-ball shines

SEATTLE -- The Mariners, ranked third in baseball with 170 home runs, have relied on their power for much of the season. But on Saturday night, the speedy part of the order proved that Seattle can also score runs with good baserunning and simple contact.

"We're playing the small-ball game at that part of the lineup," manager Scott Servais said, "which is really important for those guys to contribute in that way."

The Mariners only scored two of their eight runs with homers in Saturday's 8-2 win over the Brewers. Their first two runs were manufactured by Leonys Martin, Ketel Marte and Norichika Aoki, who batted eighth, ninth and first against right-handed starter Wily Peralta.

"You've got to know yourself," Martin said. "You've got to know what kind of a player you are."

Aoki drove in both runs. He had three hits in the leadoff spot and made contact in all five of his at-bats.

"I think the biggest thing was getting my timing down," Aoki said through his translator Kosuke Inaji. "That's why I was able to get the hits in big spots there."

Aoki's RBI single

Martin, who was on the 15-day disabled list from May 26-June 10 with a strained left hamstring, has proven in the past two series that his legs have fully recovered. He took advantage of a walk in the third by stealing second and capitalized on Marte's groundout to short by taking third base on the play. Aoki then drove Martin in with a single.

What Servais was more excited about, however, was Aoki's execution on a hit-and-run in the fifth inning.

Aoki read the sign with Marte on first, and then focused on putting the ball in play. Aoki's line drive landed just barely fair down the left-field line before spinning into foul territory.

Marte took off before the pitch and scored.

Aoki's RBI double

"We haven't done much of that this year," Servais said.

Maddie Lee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.