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Kikuchi makes big stride as M’s win

Reuters

Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi delivers a pitch in Wednesday’s game against San Diego.

The Associated PressSEATTLE (AP) — The rookie season for Seattle left-hander Yusei Kikuchi and the transition from pitching in Japan to pitching in the majors has proved to be a challenge.

At times this season Kikuchi has looked dominant. At times he has looked overwhelmed.

But throughout the season, Kikuchi has worked at making the adjustments needed to eventually be successful.

Kikuchi threw five strong innings, Mallex Smith doubled leading off the eighth and scored when Daniel Vogelbach beat out a potential inning-ending double play, and the Mariners snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

“I thought Yusei was outstanding today in the fact he went into the game trying to make an adjustment with his mechanics and he did,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

“And he got some results. The ball had life on it today. That was the difference.”

Kikuchi lasted only five innings, but the start as a whole will be viewed as an improvement.

Kikuchi struck out eight, his most since striking out a season-high 10 in early May against Cleveland. Instead of watching his start devolve after Fernando Tatis Jr. homered leading off the game, he settled down and scattered just three more hits.

Kikuchi’s final inning might have been his best. After giving up a leadoff single to Tatis, Kikuchi struck out Wil Myers for the third time, threw a fastball past Manny Machado for strike three and got Eric Hosmer looking to end his outing.

Much of the success was due to an adjustment Kikuchi made after watching video of his last start.

His arm motion was getting too long, throwing off the timing of his delivery and keeping his pitches from having the late movement needed.

“My rhythm and timing was off from where I was trying to throw. I tried to make sure everything was set first and then go home with it,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter.

Seattle had just one victory in the previous six starts by Kikuchi, but speed was the deciding factor in the eighth.

Smith led off the inning with a sinking liner that Myers couldn’t control on a diving attempt.

Smith advanced to second when the ball slipped from Myers’ hand on the throw and was credited with a double.

Myers also missed a diving attempt on a liner from Tom Murphy in the second inning that went for a triple and led to Seattle’s first run.

“I think he has the capacity to make those plays, but just didn’t come up with them today,” San Diego manager Andy Green said.

“They were plays that hurt us in the end, but he’s giving everything he’s got to try and make that play.”

Yanks power to 8th straight win

BALTIMORE (AP) — Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka each hit two home runs, and the Yankees’ longball outburst against the Baltimore Orioles reached historical proportions Wednesday night in a 14-2 blowout that extended New York’s winning streak to eight games.

Urshela had a pair of two-run drives, and Higashioka totaled five RBIs with his two shots. It was the first career multihomer game for both players.

The Yankees have 11 players with multihomer games against Baltimore this season, breaking the record of 10 set by San Francisco against the Dodgers in 1958.

Cameron Maybin also went deep for the Yankees, who tied a major league record with 16 home runs in a three-game series. New York has hit 52 homers against the Orioles this season, breaking its own major league mark of 48 against the Kansas City Athletics in 1956. All these numbers are bound to increase next week, when the teams meet again for a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The frustration of being dominated in this lopsided three-game series reached a boiling point for the last-place Orioles in the middle of the fifth inning. After manager Brandon Hyde leaned over and said something to Chris Davis, the first baseman lurched in Hyde’s direction and had to be restrained by teammate Mark Trumbo and hitting coach Don Long.

Davis is batting .182 while in the middle of a seven-year, $161 million contract. Speech

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