SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Quick Hits: What’s controllable for offense; Raley’s bunt ability

Jul 9, 2024, 9:40 AM | Updated: 10:21 am

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Luke Raley of the Seattle Mariners scores the winning run against the White Sox on June 12, 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Sometimes when leaving road cities, I like to play a game of “Forget, Pack and Steal” on the Mariners radio pregame show on Seattle Sports.

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The game was inspired by what inevitably happens when you make 23 seasons of road trips. You occasionally leave things in the hotel. Usually it is something hanging in the closet, a power cord of some sort, or perhaps a shoe that somehow snuck under the bed. We will play the game on the Roundtable segment, with me asking the broadcasters what from the games they saw on the trip they would most like to leave or forget on the road, what they would make sure to pack, and something they would like to steal from one of the other teams and bring home.

After watching the Mariners drop six of nine on the recent homestand, one might wonder if someone forgot to pack the ruby slippers. There’s no place like home?

By record – Seattle was 27-12 at T-Mobile Park prior to the homestand that just wrapped up (and still 30-18 after) – that appeared to be the case. But despite the fact the team is built for the ballpark (led with the pitching), I think it is more likely some of the home record has been coincidental, having more to do with the team’s hot streaks than a true indicator of what they are and have been for the majority of the season: offensively challenged.

After 92 games, it’s pretty safe to say the Mariners are what they are. It doesn’t mean they have to stay that way, but to rely on the vast majority of the bats snapping out of career-low years at this point in the game? They are in a spot in the baseball calendar where they do not have that luxury.

That leads us to some of the hits from the pregame show these past nine games, starting with a Scott Servais Show from Game 2 against Baltimore. Aaron Goldsmith sat down with the skipper, who I think put his finger on a “controllable” – something that can be tackled right now – with the offense.

“I do believe in our team and the talent we put together on this team and the makeup of the guys here, but ultimately you need to produce,” Servais said. “You need to have better at-bats, make consistent contact up and down the lineup. And everybody has to do their job. That means whatever your job is on the club – some guys we brought in to drive the ball, they need to hit homers. Other guys need to figure a way to get on base. Other guys are brought in to play defense and run the bases as well. Do your job, and if everybody collectively does that, we have a really good ball club.”

In other words, you have the team they thought they built. While there are no guarantees what a player will do year to year, Servais isn’t the first to state that they have gotten out of their roles. In informal conversations, one player said there are times when they try to do too much, and another believes at times too many guys are trying to hit home runs.

The result, according to Servais: “If too many guys get away from that, trying to do things that they’re really not brought here or built to do, then things go south. And right now it’s about having good at-bats. When we have opportunities with runners in scoring position, we’ve got to get at bat and hopefully get a great result.”

Here are a couple other stories unearthed in recent Mariners Clubhouse Insider interviews on the pregame show.

From the “Not-A-Northwesterner-But-Could-Be” file

Luke Raley grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Ohio. Before Game 1 against the Twins, we talked trees and bunts.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Every time we fly in, I end up calling my dad on the way home. ‘You won’t believe how many freakin’ pine trees there are out here.’ It’s unbelievable.”

Though his dad has yet to visit, Raley is working on him.

“I know he would appreciate it just because he’s been around it for so long and he likes that kind of stuff. I’m always telling him how beautiful it is out here, how many trees there are. I mean, I really enjoy it, and it’s one of the small things that just growing up working with trees and doing the Christmas trees, it’s nice to see all the pine trees out here.”

There was shop talk as well, namely a look at how bunting became a part of his game.

“It’s just something I always worked on,” he said. “I had a batting cage in my barn growing up and my mom would go down and feed the machine and I would just work on bunting because I anytime I went through a struggle, even when I was younger, I always thought, ‘Maybe a bunt hit will get me out of it.'”

In his mind, it is a tool worth having in his tool kit.

“You don’t have to have much talent to get a bunt down. You just kind of have to be patient and work on it. I think that’s the biggest thing. So you know, it’s just something that I worked on my whole life.”

Not quite a Hall of Famer

From the Roundtable, Game 3 vs. Baltimore, our guest was O’s announcer Kevin Brown. Goldsmith asked him to do an imitation of his broadcast partner, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. Brown had Palmer down to a T, and also gave some insight into the incredible preparation his partner puts into his games and recall he possess. The audio on what is easily one of my top three favorite Roundtable segments can be found here or in the player below.

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