By Shannon Drayer
So I think it is safe to say we have seen some signs of life on this homestand.
Who had Joe Saunders becoming the first Mariner to throw a complete game this year? Anybody? How about Jason Bay coming up with his first three-hit game since 2011? No? Michael Saunders coming off the DL to hit his first career leadoff home run? How about the 6-7-8-9 of Justin Smoak, Bay, Robert Andino and Brendan Ryan being the most productive part of the lineup, going 7-for-15 with two runs scored and three driven in? Anyone?
The bottom four in the M’s lineup Monday went 7-for-15 with three RBIs, one coming via a Brendan Ryan single. (AP)
Oh yes, wait, I almost forgot. How about the umpire nailing Orioles starting pitcher Zach Britton in the shoulder throwing the ball back? Okay, now.
Or maybe something more. Maybe Joe Saunders was on with his sinker, generating 17 groundouts. Maybe the work Bay has been putting in has helped him find the swing he has been looking for. Maybe the Michael Saunders home run helped the offense take a breath and keep them from pressing. Maybe the bottom-of-the-order bats are coming around. Maybe things aren’t as bleak as they looked a week ago.
We saw good pitching, good defense and better hitting against a good team Monday night at Safeco Field. Perhaps more importantly, they saw it. Bay pointed out in the clubhouse after the game that while momentum in baseball is nothing more than that day’s starting pitcher, there is without a doubt a difference in that clubhouse as the team starts to win more games.
“The feel is a lot different than when we left Houston,” he said. “It was a very blah road trip, very uninspiring. We come here and beat Anaheim, win this game and the feel is definitely different.”
Michael Saunders spoke of growing confidence in the clubhouse in his on-field interview with me. on Sunday Michael Morse said he believed the team was poised to have a strong May. Individual performances – Joe Saunders’ complete game Monday night and Morse’s home run Sunday against the Angels – are in large part helping inspire this confidence, but we are seeing the small victories that no doubt are contributing as well.
I am not ready to say they have completely turned things around. It is just three games, but they have something to build on and that is something they didn’t seem to have a week ago. At the very least, they have put the brakes on what looked to be a disastrous slide.