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May 30, 2012 at 10:23 PM

The Smoakamotive rides again in Texas, leaving steamrolled Rangers in its wake

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UPDATE 10:40 p.m.: Stephen Pryor’s agent, Mike McCann, has confirmed on Twitter that his client is joining the Mariners.
That’s the Smoakamotive getting set to leave the station here at Rangers Ballpark after flattening any baseballs pitched in its strikezone path tonight. Justin Smoak hit a pair of three-run homers, the second one a towering, 414-foot bomb to the upper deck in right field.
Now, that’s the guy the Mariners traded Cliff Lee for.
“That was probably the best one all year,” Smoak said.
His manager, Eric Wedge, did him one better.
“That final home run may have been the best swing I’ve seen him have in my time here,” said Wedge, who joined the team at the start of the 2011 season.
In any event, Smoak piled up a career-best six RBI in his first ever multi-homer game. The Mariners didn’t really need all those runs, but, hey, why not?
“”It was a great feeling,” Smoak said. “Guys were going up there with their approach and sticking to it, taking their walks when they weren’t getting pitches to hit. The more base runners you have on, you’re going to work the pitcher more and get him tired and then you’ll get pitches to hit.”
A little bit of housekeeping before we gety on with the rest of this game. Steve Delabar has been optioned to Class AAA. The Mariners have not made a corresponding roster move and won’t until Friday.
That’s because whoever is coming up from AAA Tacoma — we assume that’s where the replacement will come from — has to fly to Chicago and join the team there first. No sense announcing a move until you assure the player actually arrives in the Windy City.
So, who will it be?
Well, it will have to be a late-inning right-hander who can get right-handed hitters out. That was the problem with Delabar. His splits against righties were terrible, while he was very good against lefties.
Which would be great, except the Mariners already have a lefty specialist named Lucas Luetge who is doing a great job. They also have Charlie Furbush for longer outings from the left side.
The last thing they needed was another lefty specialist. The M’s need a guy other than Tom Wilhelmsen and Shawn Kelley who can retire right-handers. So, either Delabar was going to figure it out at the big league level — which the team gave him more than enough chances to do — or he’d be sent to AAA to work on his issues and possibly develop another pitch to counter righties with.
No one needed him as a guy against lefty hitters. That’s not where his value lies on a team that already has those pitchers. He was redundant, so now he’s gone.
So, who comes up? Well, if you want to get righties out later on in games, a guy who can throw up near 100 mh would fit the bill and that’s where Stephen Pryor could come in handy. Pryor rocketed through AA earlier this year and has looked great at AAA so far. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told me 2 1/2 weeks ago in Boston that he wanted to see Pryor have consistent results at AAA before calling him up.
Well, he’s done it for three-plus weeks. And the team needs him now. If you’re going to call up an inexperienced minor leaguer to work in a big league bullpen — and it could be seventh or eighth innings pretty quick with Brandon League struggling and working through stuff — might as well make it a flamethrower. That’s usually your best insurance. We’ll see.


Anyhow, as for tonight’s demolition of the Rangers, one of the best things to see was how the Mariners kept pouring it on after taking that 8-0 lead. They slowed down a bit after it was 17-0 in the fourth.
At one point, the Rangers retired 10 in a row and started to score some runs to make it a 17-7 affair and all of a sudden, things didn’t seem as rosy.
But then, Smoak popped another homer and life was good again.
“I was particularly pleased that they came back out and scored more runs later in the ballgame after they (the Rangers) scored a few runs,” Wedge said. “That meant a lot to me. That says a lot about our guys, too. They kept it going. In this ballpark, against that team…you always have to keep it going, but especially here.”
Wedge said it boils down to “a concentration factor.”
I asked Kyle Seager about that after his four-hit night.
“That’s the thing we talk about all the time,” Seager said. “Even when you get up like that, you’ve still got to keep your focus. You’ve still got to put together good at-bats. You’re still trying. All of your at-bats count. You don’t want to give an at-bat away at the end of the year. You don’t want to give an at-bat away where you maybe get into a bad habit.”
Yes, the Mariners were having plenty of fun as well when the score got to be 16-0. The dugout was a happy place.
Jesus Montero said the players talked amongst themselves pre-game about wanting to come out and get a series win. Montero fell a triple short of the cycle and said his teammates were telling him to go for it late.
“Everybody was telling me ‘Hit a triple!’ and I was like ‘That’s not going to happen, I’m too slow for that’,” Montero said.
Montero actually did hit for the cycle once — in AAA. He actually got the triple out of the way early on in that one. I asked him how he’d managed to hit a triple with his, um, speed.
“Because I hit the top of the wall and the outfielders were looking for the ball, and the ball jumped (back off) from the wall,” he said. “They were chasing the ball and I had time to get to third base. I think they’ve got to dive first and then I can get to third.”
Or, he can just keep pounding the ball over the wall and maybe hold up at the hot corner. Whatever works.
Tonight, for the Mariners, everything did.

Comments | Topics: Jesus Montero

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