The Mariners also got a clutch performance from reliever James Pazos, who entered the game with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, then struck out two to end the frame.
Another two resounding cracks off the bat of Mike Zunino might have resonated most loudly for those watching at Safeco Field in Monday night, but it was the manner in which he helped James Pazos silence the Detroit Tigers in a pivotal sixth inning that may linger longer for manager Scott Servais.
Zunino’s two home runs — two-run blasts in the sixth and eighth innings — were the obvious keys to Seattle’s 6-2 win over the Tigers in front of 21,517 at Safeco Field, a victory that the Mariners hope foreshadows what looms as a critical stretch of home games.
The contest is the first of 16 of 19 at Safeco Field for the Mariners, who are now 21-13 at home this season and have won two in a row to improve to 35-37.
But the game was teetering precariously in the top of the sixth, which began in a 2-2 tie
A walk and a hit gave Detroit two on with one out when Nicholas Castellanos hit a grounder off reliever Steve Cishek to Mariner shortstop Taylor Motter, an inning-ending double-play written all over it.
Instead, the ball glanced off Motter’s glove and everyone was safe.
Pazos relieved Cishek, who TV replays showed angrily pounding his glove on the bench in the dugout while a foreboding air fell over Safeco.
“Huge moment in the game,’’ Servais said later.
And as Servais said, Pazos “stepped up’’ with a healthy assist from Zunino
First, he froze pinch-hitter Mikie Mahtook with an 85 mph breaking ball on a 2-2 count that just grazed the outside corner of the strike zone for the second out.
Then Pazos struck out Andrew Romine swinging at a 99 mph high fastball, which came after a quick visit to the mound from Zunino when it was 0-2.
“I just saw an opening there and he made a good pitch,’’ Zunino said.
To Servais, that was as…