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Jack Wilson celebrates with Michael Saunders after hitting a home run Wednesday against the Dodgers. Jack Cust (below) followed suit with his first blast two innings later. (AP Photos/Nam Y. Huh)
No home runs for a week? No worries Wednesday for the Mariners as Jack Wilson and Jack Cust both muscled up and then young third baseman Alex Liddi cranked a grand slam in a 9-4 victory over the Dodgers in Glendale.
As fun as it was to see Wilson whack one over the fence and young Liddi to deliver, the one that mattered most was Cust’s blast off Wilkin De La Rose. Cust is a guy the Mariners are going to need to deliver in the middle of the lineup this season to take some pressure off everyone, particularly youngsters like Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders.
The long ball was Cust’s first and he went into the inning with one RBI in his first 19 Cactus League at-bats. The dry-humored designated hitter noted that his first bomb came after Wilson — who has six home runs in the past three seasons — had already cleared the fence.
“If I hit as many home runs as Jack, we’ll have a great year,” Cust said, trying not to roll his eyes as his teammate stood nearby.
Cust, who hit 97 home runs over the last four years in Oakland, acknowledged it felt good to bust one. The Mariners had gone a week without a long ball and while it’s early, those things tend to make one wonder about a team that struggled to score runs last year as well.
“You’re constantly searching for that rhythm and timing,” he said. “The last couple games I haven’t felt great. Usually I need a lot of at-bats to get into a groove. Playing two games in a row is nice, to know where your feet and hands are at and where you need to be.
“Any day you hit a home run is a good day,” Cust said.
The burly DH said he caught a fastball up and in. He also caught some grief from teammate Adam Kennedy, who noted that all of the left-handers hits have come off lefties this spring. According to Kennedy’s reasoning, left-handers can’t locate the ball as well early and that allows batters to pull off their pitches and still hit the fastball.
“That made me feel good, like I really accomplished something,” Cust said with his wry style. “I guess you have to be a good hitter to hit righties in spring, so I’ll just keep trying. But, yeah, a home run off anybody is good. Whether they throw with their feet or whatever, if you hit it out, it feels good.”