Well, it took two months. But that offensive pendulum appears to have swung back in the other direction for the Mariners. We’ve mentioned all season that offense is a streaky thing and that teams riding it towards a playoff spot can often find themselves in the cold when they need it most.
Best to have solid pitching, good defense and build your foundation off of that.
The Mariners have done that. They have now gone nine straight games allowing three runs or fewer. Solid pitching doesn’t go away as easily as hot hitting. And defense is not streak prone.
Offense, unfortunately for the Mariners, is. They were never expected to be a thunderous offensive team. But they were also not supposed to hover near the league’s offensive basement all year, either.
And so, finally, they have started to even things out a little.
In June, which is almost half over, they have the fifth-best on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the American League at .758. That’s a whole lot better than being among the top-two worst, as they’d been all year. The slugging part is what’s been carrying that total, with the M’s now third-best in June at .436.
Leading the way in June is Russell Branyan at 1.023. But he’s been there all year.
The difference now is Adrian Beltre at an OPS of 1.018, finally giving the Mariners that needed extra power source. Followed not too far behind by a 1.008 from Ichiro, quickly putting together his best season since 2004 — the difference this time being that his team is still in the race and these games mean something.
But the other, really big difference alongside Beltre has been Jose Lopez, checking in at .938 for the month.
Beltre and Lopez were AWOL in April and May. In June, their emergence has balanced out the batting order.
Oh yeah, Ken Griffey Jr. is at .808 for the month. His son, Trey, seen above, doesn’t factor into the stats.
I’d much rather have a lineup of five or six guys posting an .800 OPS than two guys at 1.000 and the rest at .600. That was pretty much this team’s offense the first two months. Now, it looks like an offense.
So, the offense is there. What the M’s also needed work on was situational hitting — getting all those baserunners home.
They spent the first week in June wasting all of the offensive ressurgence. Now, the past two games, they finally started cashing in.
This team is 21-8 when they score at least four runs. That’s not a whole lot to ask. We saw the walks drawn last night. We saw the hitters swing at pitches inside the zone and do something with them. Then, we saw them leave the pitches outside the zone alone and take their walks. It’s a basic concept, but has been a long time coming for this team. They’re not out of the woods yet, but as manager Don Wakamatsu said last night: “It’s a start.”
And that’s why, if it continues, this .500 team — now tied for second place — might indeed be trade deadline dealers. But it will be from the “buy” end rather than the “sell” position.
June 12, 2009 at 7:45 AM