The historically lame streak of scoring no more than three runs in 13 consecutive games — a franchise record — vanished with Kyle Seager’s third-inning grand slam, and the Mariners continued to pour it on in a 9-3 shellacking of the Cleveland Indians Wednesday at Progressive Field. Receiving six effective innings from starter Taijuan Walker, the Mariners tallied more than three runs in a game for the first time since May 26 at Tampa Bay (box score).
After Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer walked Mike Zunino, Austin Jackson and Robinson Cano to load the bases in the third, Seager unloaded for his second grand slam of the season. Seager’s homer was his 10th and he finished with five RBIs.
Seattle’s streak of three runs or fewer in 13 consecutive games set a record for the designated hitter era (since 1973). Had the Mariners failed to score more than three Wednesday, they would have tied the all-time major league record of 14 consecutive games set by the Texas Rangers from July 14-Aug. 1, 1972 . . . Seager’s slam was his second of the season, following a May 26 salami at Tampa Bay. Seager added a two-run double in the seventh and has a career .433 batting average at Progressive Field . . . Logan Morrison’s two-run double in the fourth, expanding Seattle’s lead to 6-0, extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest active run in the American League . . Mark Trumbo broke an 0-for-19 with an RBI single in the seventh . . Cano scored two runs but went 0-for-4, his average dipping to .238 . . . Dustin Ackley went 1-for-4 and can finally see the Mendoza Line at .198.
Walker (3-6, 5.40) threw six decent innings. He allowed one run on eight hits with six strikeouts and two walks and topped out at 95 mph. Walker also held the Indians to 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position . . . Deposed closer Fernando Rodney, making his first appearance since June 5 when he absorbed a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay, allowed two hits and one run in a ninth-inning mop job. His ERA: 7.03.
“I didn’t know it was a home run until it went over the wall. I’m not going to take it back. I’ll take it. Scoring this many runs takes a lot of pressure off the pitchers” — Kyle Seager, on his grand slam.
“I think we all knew this was coming, like a volcano, so to speak, and finally it erupted and it was nice to see. The grand slam made me relax a little bit” — manager Lloyd McClendon, on Seattle’s offensive breakout.
The Mariners held 1B/DH Nelson Cruz, ailing with a back strain, out of Wednesday’s lineup. Lifted from Seattle’s 3-1 win Tuesday, Cruz might be able to return Thursday when the Mariners and Indians close out the three-game series . . . The Mariners have won two in a row after losing nine of 15 . . . Seattle is 26-28 vs. the American League and 7-10-2 in series played.
40 Picks in Amateur Draft
The Mariners selected 30 more players in the June amateur draft Wednesday and finished the three-day selection process with 25 pitchers, two catchers, nine infielders and four outfielders. Overall, Seattle took 27 collegians, 13 high school players and seven players with ties to the Pacific Northwest.
The seven with local ties included RHP Andrew Moore, Oregon State University; OF Braden Bishop, University of Washington, LHP Joe Pistorese, Washington State; C P.J. Jones, Washington State; RHP Parker McFadden. Yelm High School; OF Gus Craig, Columbia University and Colton Sakamoto, Westview High School (Beaverton, OR.). Three Huskies were taken Wednesday: pitchers Tyler Davis (Texas) and Troy Rallings (Oakland) and SS A.J. Graffanino (Cleveland). This is a complete list of Seattle’s 2015 draft picks.
The Mariners and Indians close out their three-game series Thursday starting at 9:10 a.m., PT. J.A. Happ (3-1, 3.31), coming off seven shutout innings against Tampa Bay, will throw for Seattle opposite RHP Shaun Marcum (2-1, 5.19). The Mariners then move to Houston for a three-game set with the Astros starting Friday at 5:10 p.m., PT.
Rodney just can’t do a scoreless inning anymore. Even with no pressure on him. His velocity seems slightly less than last season but I’d be surprised if that’s the reason for his poor season.
In defense of Rodney, [Ed. note: Huh? Wha?] all pitchers are subjected to analysis by teams looking for the “solution.” A pitcher may be traded to the other league where he’s never been seen and have one great season. A closer might have a breakout season and be practically automatic. But as the victories/saves pile up, so does the video tape and the knowledge passed around by the hitters. It’s a constant chess game, a back-and-forth, and the best pitchers have three things that keep them the best – 1) Their own constant analysis of hitters (along with their catchers); 2) Their ability to re-invent themselves and add tools to their arsenal; and 3) Their great stuff.
1) Is Rodney (and his battery mate) building up a storehouse of knowledge to apply to each individual hitter as he comes up to the plate, ala Jamie Moyer? Or is it just “one finger or two fingers, keep the ball down?” Good question. Hitters are smart or they guess smart – same outcome. Pitchers have to be just as smart.
2) Can Rodney add a pitch to his repertoire or tweak one of his current pitches to give it a different behavior? Good question. I remember when Kazuhiro Sasaki was working on a true curve ball to go along with his fastball and that split-finger. It was quietly reported in the media and Kaz only threw it about once every other appearance. But when he did, it was a wicked, wicked surprise.
3) Does Rodney have “great stuff,” ala Mo Rivera, meaning no amount of analysis will help you at the plate? Probably not – go back and work #1 and #2.
At this point I’m questioning if he’s tipping his pitches. I’d be surprised if he is, he’s been around long enough to know better. But something is going on with him.
For all the naysaying and Lincoln-hating I do, we have a bunch of Mashers and the pitching around the league only gets worse as the season goes on. People get called up, they fall out of the playoff chase and lose focus, etc. If the M’s can hang around within striking distance of the wild-card by late August, I bet they will make a nice little run at it.