SEATTLE -- Michael Saunders two-run homer off Jon Lester on Saturday had significant short-term benefits -- it broke up a no-hitter and gave the Mariners the lead -- but it was also a positive long-term sign.
Saunders, a left-handed hitter, entered Sunday's game 6-for-36 (.167) facing left-handers and 30-for-115 (.261) against righties, and his bomb off Lester was just his second homer against a southpaw (he has eight total).
Manager Don Wakamatsu stressed the importance of having Saunders face lefties more often, and he got another chance Sunday against Boston reliever Hideki Okajima, when he came up big again with a two-run, go-ahead single in the eighth. The Mariners ended up winning, 4-2.
"I think you see a lot of [left-handed hitters], especially young players early in their career, where they get protected to a point that maybe it does affect them long term," Wakamatsu said before Sunday's game. "Thats something where we want to build his confidence, and a game last night off a pitcher like Lester, youd sure think that would help."
And Saunders' confidence kept rising Sunday, when he left Safeco Field the hero for the second day in a row.
"Last year, I was looking at the name on the back more than just another pitcher," Saunders said. "I told myself this year I wasn't going to put any pressure on myself, just be confident in my abilities. I've had no problems with lefties in the Minor Leagues, so the more I see them, hopefully I wont have much trouble up here either."