SEATTLE -- Not even a pair of home runs apiece by the Yankees' Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro could derail the Mariners on Monday night at Safeco Field as Seattle rode a pair of three-run blasts by Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino to a 7-5 series-opening win.
"This team is picking one another up," Zunino said. "We had a tough loss [Sunday], but we know we're not going to be perfect through this stretch here. I think guys did a good job coming to the park with energy today, and to get a win like this, coming from behind, is huge."
Zunino's opposite-field shot off reliever Anthony Swarzak in the sixth pushed the Mariners into the lead after Sanchez and Castro had given the Yankees a 5-3 advantage with their second homers of the game in the top of that inning off fill-in starter Cody Martin. Nelson Cruz added an insurance run with a solo blast in the eighth, his 32nd of the season, before rookie closer Edwin Diaz came on and stranded runners on second and third for his 10th straight save .
"He got me when it counted," Swarzak said of Zunino. "The worst part about it is we need every game right now. We've got to win every game, especially when guys put up an offensive showing like that. This one's tough."
The Mariners are 15-5 over their past 20 games, the best record in the American League in that span, as they closed to 5 1/2 games back of idle Texas in the West at 67-57. The Yankees saw their eight-game win streak at Safeco Field snapped as they fell to 63-61.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The kid can swing it: Sanchez, announced as the AL Player of the Week on Monday, wasted no time starting on a new week as he racked up three hits and three RBIs. Sanchez hit a solo homer in the first and a two-run blast in the sixth, giving him eight home runs in his first 17 games this year. In between the two homers he hit a single that, with an exit velocity of 113.1 mph, was the second-hardest ball hit by a Yankees player this season. The 23-year-old, who appeared in two games last season, is the first Yankees player in history with eight home runs in his first 19 career games. More »
A launch party: Mariners manager Scott Servais gave Seager the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Michael Pineda in the fourth and, well, why not? Seager pummeled the 95 mph fastball over the fence in dead center for a three-run homer to give Seattle a 3-2 lead. The shot was Seager's 24th homer of the year, just two shy of his career high set last year. Seager's team-leading 83 RBIs moved him ahead of Toronto's Josh Donaldson (80) for the most of any AL third baseman.
"It's a great count to hit in," said Seager. "You can be as absolutely selective and look for the absolute perfect pitch. If he throws something you don't like, even if it's a strike, it's no harm done. It's a count that I like."
Doing his own damage: Castro matched Sanchez's two home runs with two of his own for the fourth multi-homer game of his career and his first this season. Castro led off the second inning with a solo shot. He launched that home run 407 feet to center field by Statcast™'s measurements. His sixth-inning homer he hit even farther, 413 feet, on a full count. Castro went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Ohhhh'Malley!Shawn O'Malley and Guillermo Heredia were inserted into the Mariners' corner-outfield positions for defensive purposes in the seventh after Seattle took a 6-5 lead on Zunino's three-run blast … and it didn't take O'Malley long to show why. The Mariners utility man made a leaping catch -- bowling over a fan in the process -- as he went into the stands to catch a foul pop down the right-field line by Tyler Austin for the second out of the seventh.
"Everybody thinks about jumping into the stands and making the great catch, but you don't really think about the consequences after it," O'Malley said. "What you're going to hit, who you're going to hit. Fortunately tonight I didn't hit anybody; I felt I got let down nice and soft, which was great, and I did so with the ball in my glove, which was awesome." More »
"You win by the homer, you die by the homer. I think that's the story of tonight's game. We had a rough one yesterday and we got some big hits tonight. Really happy with the way our team responded. It was nice to see. We got down early, hung in there and obviously the big three-run homers were the difference." -- Servais
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sanchez became the second Yankees player to hit seven or more home runs in his first 19 career games. The first? That would be Kevin Maas, who wound up with 21 homers in 79 games his rookie season in 1990.
The Mariners are 21-8 over their last 29 home games and haven't lost back-to-back games that entire stretch, which ties a club record. They also went 29 games without consecutive home losses from April 24-July 2, 2006, at Safeco Field.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:CC Sabathia (7-10, 4.49 ERA) will get the start in New York's second game of a three-game set in Seattle. The left-hander gave up a season-high seven runs in his last start, a 7-4 loss against Toronto. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.
Mariners: Seattle has yet to name a starter for Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco Field, though the expectation is that right-hander Taijuan Walker (4-7, 4.10 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. He's made just one start for the Mariners since July 5 after spending a month on the DL with tendinitis in his right arch.