The Mariners finally look to be righting the ship after treading water for most of the first two months of the season. The M’s just wrapped up a month where they went .500 (14-14) and are off to a great start in June at 3-1.
Seattle swept the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend and finished the week 6-1. This is coming at the heels of losing their best overall hitter, Jean Segura for the majority of the summer to injury. The Mariners have shown resiliency and it has paid off as they are now only two games under .500 and 2 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.
The offense averaged a whopping 7.4 runs per game this week. Of course, two of those games came at Coors Field but nevertheless, the numbers are pretty impressive. The M’s went back-to-back nights on Friday and Saturday with grand slams, the first by ex-Ray Taylor Motter and the second by a white-hot Mike Zunino. Zunino finished Saturday’s 9-2 drubbing of the Rays with 7 RBI.
It is even debatable that Zunino was the Mariners’ best hitter this week. Danny Valencia has caught fire. He tied a Mariners record by collecting nine consecutive hits. He is a Player of the Week candidate, hitting .519 with 10 RBI and a 1.274 OPS in the seven games this week. His average started this week at .242 and he is now at .283.
Ben Gamel also had a noteworthy week, hitting .500 with a double, triple and two RBI. Nelson Cruz added two home runs. The Mariners have won 7 of their last 8 mostly due to all parts of the lineup contributing, not just one guy pulling the weight. Everyone pitched in this week.
The Mariners pitching staff had a 3.14 ERA this week. The pinnacle moment of this excellent stretch was Ariel Miranda’s complete-game gem on Sunday. He struck out 9, only walking one and allowing just one run on four hits. He had the Rays off-balance all day long on his way to his first career complete game. Because of his efforts, the bullpen gets two complete days off with the off-day on Monday.
Another sight for sore eyes was the return of James Paxton. He didn’t skip a beat. In Wednesday’s 5-0 win, Paxton went 5 1/3 innings without allowing a run nor walk while striking out six. “The Big Maple” himself continues to make the case for being the ace of the 2017 Mariners staff.
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In the bullpen, the Mariners have gone from last in the entire league in ERA to 23rd. Two weeks ago, they had an ERA in the mid-5’s as a bullpen. They have it down to 4.63 now. Although he was sent back to Tacoma a few days ago, Casey Lawrence impressed when he was pressed into duty in the fourth inning of Thursday’s loss after Yovani Gallardo struggled. He set a Mariners record with nine strikeouts in a relief effort that lasted five innings. Dan Altavilla seems to be getting back on track. In three appearances this week, he pitched 3 1/3 innings without allowing a hit with four strikeouts.
Quite simply, the Mariners did not commit a single error this week. The Mariners were at one point at +6 Defensive Runs Saved but are now down to +1. Regardless, being above zero is a good thing here. The outfield has performed well. Considering the revolving door the middle of the infield has been with injuries to Robinson Cano and now Segura once again, the defense has been a big plus.
Player of the Week: Danny Valencia-14 for 27 (.519), 1 HR, 10 RBI, 1.274 OPS