Have the Mariners reached the corner?
By Shannon Drayer
Some quick postgame thoughts on what was a big night for the Mariners’ offense in a 12-3 win over Boston:
Logan Morrison’s two home runs helped the M’s beat Boston 12-3 and improve to a season-best five games over .500. (AP)
It’s funny, even though I was optimistic of what we might see Monday night coming off what was what I think was a big series sweep in Kansas City, I knew better than to try to predict what would happen next. The Mariners have been completely unpredictable this year, but a better unpredictable than last year. There have probably been as many surprises, but more good surprises.
Last year I talked about turning a corner. We didn’t see that. I then lowered the expectation to approaching the corner. Before long the corner was completely out of sight. We’ve seen that corner a number of times this year. I almost wonder if we might overlook the actual turning of the corner or perhaps it has been turned already. I think most of you – or at least this is what I heard at the time – would be happy if the team finished with a .500 record this year. I think that bar has been raised, and rightly so with the pitching the Mariners have.
My question then is this: how do we define the corner? Games like the last four really have me thinking about this.
Three good, hard-fought wins in Kansas City and then the laugher Monday night. The Red Sox, by the way, were shockingly bad. That’s their problem. Felix Hernandez did something no other pitcher in Mariners history has done – put up eight straight outings of seven innings or more with two runs or fewer scored.
It was another stellar outing from Felix yet we had to remind ourselves on the postgame show to give him his proper credit. I’ve talked about it before but he has set his standard so high that we are in danger of taking him for granted on any given start. It’s pretty amazing that on a night where he set a franchise mark we talked more about a guy who put up an 0-fer, how Dustin Ackley’s 13-pitch fielder’s choice may have been the difference maker in a 12-3 win. It certainly was a thing of beauty. Logan Morrison going 4 for 4 with two home runs and Endy Chavez hitting a bases-clearing triple didn’t hurt, either. It was that kind of night.
We’ll see what the Mariners do to follow it up – follow it up at home. That might be the final hurdle to get to the corner. In fact, winning more games at home is precisely what manager Lloyd McClendon pointed to when I asked a few weeks ago what was necessary to take the next step forward. Perhaps this is the series where they go over .500 at Safeco. We shall see.
• The offense in the organization wasn’t limited to Seattle. In Tacoma, the three Mariners on rehab assignments were making some noise, too. Michael Saunders went 4 for 5 with two doubles and three RBIs. Justin Smoak was 1 for 5 but that 1 was a big one, a two-run home run. Corey Hart had a good night as well, going 2 for 5 with a double and a triple.
• Alex Jackson, the Mariners’ No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, was at Safeco Monday to sign his contract and take batting practice with the team. While he didn’t put on a big power display, he impressed me with how methodical his session was. He focused on going up the middle and the other way and peppered right and center with line drive after line drive. After batting practice I interviewed him for the pregame show. That interview can be found here.
• Last but not least, last year’s top pick, DJ Peterson, has been promoted to Double-A Jackson. Peterson hit his 18th home run and drove in his 72nd and 73rd RBIs in his final game with High Desert.