What’s changed for Mariners of late? Aaron Goldsmith weighs in

Jul 5, 2023, 3:03 PM

Seattle Mariners...

Seattle Mariners players surround celebrate their win over the San Francisco Giants on July 4, 2023. (Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

(Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners tied their season-high win streak on Tuesday, beating the San Francisco Giants 6-0 to clinch a fourth-straight victory.

Gilbert’s 1st shutout, Ford’s 4 hits lead Seattle Mariners past Giants 6-0

If you think this recent stretch has been different, you’re not the only one.

So what’s changed for the Mariners of late? Aaron Goldsmith, who calls Mariners games for ROOT Sports and on Seattle Sports, weighed in on that during a Wednesday conversation with Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

“I mean, the offense has taken center stage for, I don’t know, maybe the first time all year?” Goldsmith said.

The Mariners have largely failed to find traction offensively this season, and that’s the biggest reason why they’ve continued to hover right around .500 all year long. But as Goldsmith noted, that hasn’t been the case over this four-game winning streak, where the Mariners are averaging 6.75 runs and 11.5 hits per game.

“Four straight games now with double-digit hits for the Mariners and they’ve really had it all cooking offensively,” he said. “There’s been a ton of traffic – I mean, the hits alone should indicate that – but we’ve seen them hit for average, we’ve seen them hit for power, the strikeouts are actually down just a touch over the last handful of games – but they’re still striking out, which is fine. The difference is that they’re striking out and also doing damage and also getting on base. The traffic has been very obvious, and they’ve been able to convert those into runs. The pitching continues to be very good.”

“This is the first time we’ve really felt, I think, some momentum for this team this year … and especially to do it against the quality of competition that has happened against that makes it even more noteworthy,” Goldsmith later added. “Hey, it’s a small sample, right? It’s only a handful of games, but it’s it’s been a good month of July so far, to say the least.”

Someone who’s been a key contributor in the Mariners turning things around offensively is big first baseman/designated hitter Mike Ford, who is slashing .279/.324/.618 (.942 OPS) with seven home runs and 13 RBIs this season.

“He’s earning a ton of playing time and we’re seeing him in there on a regular basis right now,” Goldsmith said. ” … What you are hoping for is what we have seen the last few weeks, which is he gets hot. I mean, Mike Ford is not a guy who’s going to hit for a high average. We’ve talked to Mike about how he basically views his own player profile and he is an on-base and slug guy. He draws walks and he hits for power. The difference this year – there’s been a little bit of a departure from his career norm – is he doesn’t draw walks this year like he did in years past. His walk rate has significantly regressed. And that might not be a bad thing. The Mariners and Mike Ford have both agreed on kind of a more aggressive approach at the plate.”

Goldsmith said that Ford used to go up to the plate and be really selective, so he’d either walk, homer or fall behind in the count, foul off pitches and strike out on a pitcher’s pitch.

“He’s going up there to do some damage and provide some pop. And he’s actually kind of done both, which has been interesting so far in his time with the Mariners,” Goldsmith said. “He has definitely helped give the Mariners a bit of a jolt that they’ve needed in that DH spot in particular.”

The Seattle Mariners’ players only meeting

While it didn’t translate to a win that day, the Mariners did have a players only meeting on Friday ahead of their series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been the best team in the American League this year.

Seattle lost that day, but have won its last four games since.

Goldsmith was asked what he knows about the meeting that took place.

“Well, it seemed like a long one. I don’t know what the league average length of a players only meetings is, but it seemed like a long one,” he said. “It felt like that was the time of the year where something like that was going to happen.”

Before that meeting, the Mariners had dropped two of three to the Washington Nationals, who are in last place in the National League East. After losing a game they should have won on Tuesday, the M’s fell to the Nationals 4-1 on Wednesday, which Goldsmith called “rock bottom” as the bats went silent against Patrick Corbin, who statistically is one of the worst pitchers in baseball.

“I think the point is the frustrations that have been around this team from essentially the start of the season through the end of June, I think what it shows us is that the players feel it, and they feel it more than anyone. (Mariners manager) Scott Servais feels it more than anyone. As fans, everyone is frustrated. But those are the guys, this is their career,” Goldsmith said. ” … This is their livelihood, and they’re trying to do something great. They’re trying to get to the postseason in back-to-back years. I know that those players aren’t satisfied with just breaking the drought and then mailing it in. I mean, that’s not what they were signing up for this year. And it was a really disappointing first few months of the season.”

But since that meeting “for a variety of reasons,” the Mariners are playing much better, Goldsmith said.

“They’ve seemed to turn it around. They’ve already secured series wins against two teams where one has been arguably the best team in baseball since Day 1 (in the Rays), and the other, the Giants, they’ve been one of the best teams in the National League since the start of May,” he said. “… So it’s all humming right now for the Mariners.”

After Wednesday’s series finale in San Francisco, where the Mariners are looking to get a sweep and a fifth consecutive victory, they head to Houston to play the Astros for four games before the All-Star Break.

“It’s gonna be a tough test in Houston,” Goldsmith said. “But if you can split in Houston with those four games … that’s momentum going into the break, which is exactly what this team needed.”

Listen to Bump and Stacy’s full conversation with Goldsmith at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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What’s changed for Mariners of late? Aaron Goldsmith weighs in