The Mariners have trotted out many marketing slogans over the years ranging from the memorable — “Refuse To “Lose” (1995), “You Gotta Love These Guys” (1996-98) and “Sodo Mojo” (2001); to the barely passable – “A New Day, A New Way” (2009), “Believe Big” (2010) and ‘True To The Blue” (2014). Although not an official slogan, a catchphrase from 2001 – “Two Outs, So What!” – seemed a perfect fit for a club that, during the regular season, could do little wrong.
The 2001 Mariners (116-46) tallied 927 runs, a franchise-record 339 coming with two outs. The 36.5 percent share of total runs seemed like a ton. Turns out, 36.5 percent is about the average for all Mariners teams dating to the inaugural year of 1977.
The year before “Two Outs, So What!” gained traction among fans, many of whom brandished signs with the phrase at Safeco Field, the 2000 Mariners scored 37.4 percent of their runs (340 of 907) with two outs. The 1997 Mariners tallied 37.7 percent (349 of 925), and the “Refuse To Lose Mariners” of 1995 39.5 percent (315 of 796).
“Two Outs, So What!” fits the 2014 season much better than it did the 2001 “Sodo Mojo” Mariners. Take Tuesday night’s home season opener.
In the third inning, after Angels starter Hector Santiago retired Mike Zunino (fly ball) and Abraham Almonte (strikeout) and Brad Miller reached on a wild pitch following a swinging strikeout, Justin Smoak singled, scoring Miller. Corey Hart then blasted a three-run homer, taking the Mariners from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead.
In the seventh, Hart followed a groundball out by Robinson Cano and a strikeout looking by Smoak with a smash over the center field fence for a 5-3 Seattle lead that boosted GM Jack Zduriencik several notches up the genius scale for signing the free agent, who didn’t play in 2013 due to a knee injury.
So the Mariners scored all runs with two outs, continuing a trend that has seen the club tally 26 of 39 runs – 66.6 percent – with two outs. Seven games isn’t much of a sample, but this is how that 66.6 percent compares to other Seattle teams since 1995:
|2014||39||26||66.6||Minnesota No. 2 in MLB; 46.3% with 2 outs|
|2007||794||318||40.1||One of only 2 winning seasons since 2003|
|1995||796||315||39.5||Season reduced to 145 games due to strike|
|1997||925||349||37.7||Won AL West at 90-72|
|2002||814||307||37.7||Missed postseason despite winning 93|
|2003||795||299||37.6||Won 93, but came up 3 games shy in AL West|
|2000||907||340||37.4||Went 91-71, reached postseason as wild card|
But 66.6 percent is remarkable when compared to other American League teams after one week of the season. Only five clubs – Minnesota (46.3 percent), Boston (45.7), Toronto (44.4), Tampa Bay (44.1) and Cleveland (40.0) – have scored 40 or more percent of their runs with two outs.
In Minnesota’s and Boston’s case, scoring a lot of two-out runs hasn’t kept either out of last place in their respective divisions. But Tampa Bay leads the AL East, Cleveland is in second in the AL Central and the Mariners lead the AL West.
FIRST PLACE: The Mariners (5-2) have already spent seven days in first place, the same number as the 2013 (3) and 2012 (4) seasons combined. The Mariners have not spent more than seven days in first place since 2009 (22).
EX-MARINERS: With David Robertson on the 15-day DL with a groin strain, Shawn Kelly will assume the role of New York Yankees’ closer. Selected by the Mariners in the 13th round of the 2007 June draft, Kelly pitched for Seattle from 2009-12, compiling a record of 10-9, 3.52. The Mariners traded him to New York Feb. 13, 2013 for Abraham Almonte, Seattle’s leadoff hitter.
NEXT: LHP Roenis Elias (0-0, 1.80), who allowed two hits and one run over five innings in his MLB debut in Oakland April 3, will make his second start and first at Safeco Field Wednesday. The third Cuban to pitch for Seattle (also Diego Segui and Tony Fossas), Elias will be opposed by RHP Garrett Richards (1-0, 1.80), who defeated the Houston Astros 11-1 April 4.