What a difference 10 days make.

04292016-KCSea_053
Leonys Martin saves the day pulling in the two-out bottom of the ninth fly ball from Kansas City’s Salvador Perez at the warning track. Seattle would win the 1-0 game on just one-hit: a home run by Seth Smith in the 6th inning. The Kansas City Royals played the Seattle Mariners in the first of a three-game set at Safeco Field in Seattle, Friday, April 29, 2016. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

I’m not sure which was the bigger victory, Felix’s shutout of the Royals on Friday night, while the M’s managed a single hit-Seth Smith’s solo homer-to win 1-0, or Wade Miley’s complete game 6-0 whitewash of the Royals last night.  Perhaps the Friday game was bigger because of the drama of Smith’s homer, and Leonys Martin’s catch at the wall to end the game. For me it was the Martin catch, because I simply love great defensive plays and honestly it’s been a long time since the M’s had a center fielder who could make them.

In the end, it doesn’t matter, because they are two wins in a really long season.  As many have pointed out, every win is important-remember 2014.  But these great pitching performances is what I thought we’d see as the Mariners were assembling their team.

Important statistic number one: the Mariners have allowed 76 runs..

That is tops in the American League, tied with the amazing Chicago White Sox for first. Why?  They are sixth in the league for fewest BB/9, and in every other important stat-K/9, fewest HR/9, BABIP, they are in the top 5.  If you like a mix of traditional and “new” stats, they are second in team ERA and FIP. This pitching staff has been very good so far, including the suspect bullpen.  Every starter from The King to Nate Karns has turned in one no-doubt-about-it gem in their four or five starts. Contrast that with the pre-season favorite Houston Astros and their pitching staff, which top to bottom has been godawful, ranked in the bottom five in almost every one of those statistics.

Important statistic number two: the Mariners lead the league in run differential with a +24

It’s been eight days since my April 23rd 8-8 post.  The M’s are now 13-10.  They’ve gone 5-2.  In those seven games they’ve scored four or more runs four times. The team has shown definite improvement in some offensive categories.  How about BB%? Their 9.7% is tied for the league lead with Toronto, and is up 2% from last year. Never thought I’d write those words.  K% is 20.2%, down a full percent from last year and puts them about middle of the pack for the AL.  They were second highest in the league last year. Sounds like small changes but it makes a big difference.  Consider this:

  • The M’s are 14th in the AL in batting average with a .214 team mark.  C’mon Aoki, let’s get it in gear. Leonys, Kyle–really?
  • Because of their improved walk rate, the team is 6th in on base percentage with a .313 average.
  • The Mariners scored 100 runs after 23 games, fifth in the AL.  Last year they scored their 100th run in their 28th game. They were 13th in runs scored in the league.

Given the pitching improvements and the hitting progress that should translate into wins.  Still a lot of room for improvement on the hitting front, but they’re scoring on clutch homers, yesterday they stole a run on an infield out.  This team has more speed and takes extra bases.  There’s a lot to be positive about.

Important Statistic number three:  The Mariners are 8 – 2 over their last ten games.

On April 20th, as the Mariners were getting ready to open their series in Cleveland, they’d won a road series from what appears to be a baaaaddd Yankees team. They were three games removed from an embarrassing home series, and their record was 5-8, 2.5 games out of first place.  Fans on Facebook were screaming “same ol’ Mariners” and calling for Mike Zunino to be called up from the PCL where he is tearing up the place. In ten games they’ve turned that around are poised to sweep the world champion Royals and reach .500 at home.  Don’t buy your World Series tickets yet. As elated as I am about the team’s recent success, things can turn quickly in major league baseball. It’s a long season, and every team is ten games from potential disaster.  Ask the Astros.

Final important statistics: .565 at 14.1

The Mariners are 13 -10 for a .565 winning percentage.  They’ve played 14.1% of their schedule.  Be happy, support the team, there are usually plenty of seats at Safeco Field. Scott Servais said, after last night’s game, he expects the team to win every day, and you should too. But remember that win or lose a game here a series there, there is another one tomorrow, and the day after until October 2nd.  It’s what comes after that date that will make the season special or not. The 50 game mark is May 31st.  At least we’re in the right month now.  That’s when we should know what this team is about.

Martin wall outline
Saturday the M’s commemorated Martin’s catch with an outline of his faceplant on the wall with this tape outline. Classy.

 

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