JOHN CLAYTON

John Clayton: Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta helping bottom of the lineup flourish

Jun 9, 2016, 3:01 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm

When Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta gets hot, he gets really hot. And that has been great news for the bottom third of the Mariners’ lineup.

The 33-year-old accounted for four of the Mariners’ five runs from the nine-hole during Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Cleveland, twice driving in shortstop Ketel Marte, who was batting eighth. Iannetta went 3 for 3 at the plate with two home runs, upping his batting average to .233. His three extra-base hits equaled a Mariners club record for extra-base hits by a catcher.

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Over the last seven games, Iannetta is hitting .400, with four runs scored, four doubles, six RBIs and two walks. Three of his six home runs this season have given the Mariners a lead, as well.

The heart of Seattle’s lineup (second baseman Robinson Cano, DH/right fielder Nelson Cruz and third baseman Kyle Seager) get most of the headlines, but 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton says that Iannetta was still managing timely hits even when his batting average was closer to .200. Clayton believes Iannetta’s work at the plate has stabilized the bottom of Seattle’s order in a way the team hasn’t seen in a while.

“He just seemed to be a player that at the bottom of the lineup, he gives you a little bit more than this team has had,” Clayton said. “I think that’s one of the big differences of this team.”

Clayton says Iannetta’s tough attitude and stabilizing presence behind the plate have been an overall upgrade over the previous starting backstop, Mike Zunino, who is a solid defender but hit below .200 in 2014 and 2015 .

“What’s important? That he did it here at Safeco Field. You can see with his toughness, he’s not intimidated by this park,” Clayton said of Iannetta. “Not all 30 catchers can go around and be great at both offense and defense, so you usually have to take one thing or the other. A lot of times you take the defense and accept the .200 to .210 batting average. Now he’s getting hot and doing disciplined things behind the plate. You do need good consistent hitting at the bottom of the lineup.”

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