Mariners Insider

Mariners 9, Rangers 2: Can you say offensive juggernaut?

Post by Ryan Divish on July 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm with 5 Comments »
July 2, 2013 10:18 pm
Kendrys Morales is welcomed back to the dugout by teammates, after hitting a three-run home run, his second home of the night, during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers Tuesday (AP Photo/John F. Rhodes)
Kendrys Morales is welcomed back to the dugout by teammates, after hitting a three-run home run, his second home of the night, during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers Tuesday (AP Photo/John F. Rhodes)

Who is this offensive juggernaut and what have they done with the Seattle Mariners?

Joking aside, the Mariners’ offense resembled something beyond competent and a little like what manager Eric Wedge envisioned in spring training.

It’s not something that has been seen often this season.

But on Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, it was there in a 9-2 win, tantalizing Wedge and Mariners’ fans of what it could still be. Seattle banged out 13 hits with every position player recording a hit with three doubles and three homers.

“That’s what we did this spring,” Wedge said. “But you get banged up, a couple of guys get off to bad starts, and you kind of lose your mojo there. This was really good to see.”

More importantly, will the Mariners see it more in the second half of the season?

“If we can get a couple of guys going at the same time, we’ll have nights like this, more nights like this,” Wedge said. .”

It seems as though one of those guys is going again.

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales had a monster night, going 3-for-5 with two homers and six RBI.

Early in the season, he was the Mariners’ top offensive threat. But a back injury from overuse in the field had slowed his production. In his last 15 games, he hit just .211 (12-for-57) with two doubles and a homer and 16 strikeouts.

But the back has slowly been getting better.

“There is no more pain,” Morales said through translator Jaime Navarro. “I feel great. Right now the pain is not there and I’ll just keep playing and doing the things I need to do.”

Wedge could see it in the past few games.

“I think he’s been freed up a little bit more,” Wedge said. “He lost his stroke there a little bit. He was chasing quite a bit, trying to do too much. That’s what happens, especially with a guy like him, who knows he’s a good hitter. He can do a lot of damage for your ballclub. Obviously, he did tonight.”

The offense started with the ageless Raul Ibanez. The 41-year-old blasted his 20th homer of the season, ripping a ball to right-center off of Rangers’ starter Justin Grimm in the first inning.

The 20 homers before the all-star break is a good number for any player. But at age 41? Since 1916, no  player over the age of 40 had ever hit 20 homers before the all-star break. A year ago, Ibanez hit 19 homers in the entire season.

“It is what it is, kind of thing,” Ibanez said of the accomplishment. “I try not to dwell on it a whole lot and just keep plugging away and doing my thing. The preparation, the work in the cage, continuing trying to have the right approach and hit the ball on the barrel, that’s pretty much all you can do.”

Morales followed immediately with a solo homer to right for back-to-back long balls.

Texas answered with a run in the third off of Mariners starter Joe Saunders to cut the lead to 2-1.

But unlike much of this season, the Mariners continued to add to their early lead. They tacked on another run in the third on Dustin Ackley’s RBI double

Morales broke the game open in the fifth, ripping his second homer of the game, crushing a three-run shot to right-center, knocking Grimm out of the game.

Up 6-1, Morales wasn’t done. He smacked a two-run single to left-center in the sixth.

“Kendrys had a pretty good night,” Saunders deadpanned.

This isn’t the first time he’s had a pretty good night in this park. On July 30 of last season when he was with the Angels, Morales ripped a two-run homer and a grand slam in Arlington for six RBI.

He’s hit 10 homers in 121 at-bats in Arlington, but really has no great affection for the hitter friendly park.

“It’s not one of my best parks, but I feel comfortable hitting the ball here,” he said.

Saunders has no great love of Rangers Ballpark either. Coming into Tuesday, he’d made seven regular season starts here and was 0-7 and with a 9.91 earned run average.

“This place has torn me up a few times,” he said.

But all that run support allowed him to get his first ever regular season win in Arlington. He worked  6 2/3 innings giving up two runs (one earned) on 10 hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

“It’s nice as a starting pitcher when you get a little bit of a cushion for sure,” Wedge said. “That helps us relax and kind of settle in a little bit. It takes a little bit pressure off you. But you still have to go out and throw up zeroes against this offense because they can throw up a crooked number in a hurry.”

Against a potent and right-handed heavy line-up, Saunders found himself in trouble often. He allowed a base runner to reach in every inning but the first. But a few timely double plays and a nice grab of hard shot up the middle from Elvis Andrus with two outs and bases loaded in fourth inning helped him limit the damage.

“He’s had some troubles in this park in the past, but obviously against that lineup in this ballpark he pitched a good ballgame,” Wedge said.

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  1. Vegas56 says:

    Ballpark and climate have a tremendous impact on hitting. At home, at sea-level, particularly in the cold, damp climate early in the year, the ball just won’t carry like it will with a bit of altitude and in a drier climate. The Mariners are going to hit better in Arlington, on the average, than they will in Seattle…and that is particularly true in July as opposed to April and May.

    Safeco is a spacious park, but not ridiculously so…but combined with the cool, damp sea-level climate – night games especially – it plays very, very big. Now that July is here things may change some at home for the Mariners…as long as the weather stays warm and dry.

  2. wabubba67 says:

    I guess when other teams play at Safeco in April thru June that their hitting conditions are somehow different? If your theory is accurate, it would seem to benefit a team that relies upon pitching and defense (Mariners)…and yet the losses pile up.

  3. bbnate420 says:

    wabubba, the M’s are 21-22 at home and 15-25 on the road. So it seems it does benefit them. They are still just not a good team period though. Plus, the M’s actually have a HIGHER OPS at home than on the road, .696 to .686. .696 is .074 higher than their OPS at home in 2012. They’ve also scored 22 more runs at home in only 3 more games. Safeco was dead last in runs and hitting and 29th in HR ballpark factors in 2012. It’s tied for 16th in hits, 27th in HR, and 22nd in runs in 2013.

    The problem is that their pitching has regressed to go with the modest offensive improvement. They had a 3.76 ERA in 2012 and have a 4.11 ERA in 2013. At home, they had a 2.96 ERA in 2012 and have a 3.56 ERA in 2013. Their ERA is only 0.17 higher on the road in 2013 over 2012.

    It seems that either the fences, weather, new players, or most likely some combination have changed how they hit at home versus the road. In 2012, they had a OPS of .622 at home and .703 on the road. In 2011, it was .623 at home and .658 on the road. In 2010, it was .623 at home and .651 on the road. It’s removed the excuse at least IMO. We all should know that the M’s just need more talent and production. The park is hardly their biggest problem. Health has been bad this year too, although it shouldn’t be shocking that players like Morse and Guti are going to miss time.

  4. bbnate420 says:

    BTW, the M’s were 40-41 at home in 2012, so the new dimensions haven’t helped their winning percentage at home thus far. They’re just worse on the road than last year. As I said, it’s removed an excuse. I still think moving the fences was a good thing. It’s still a pitchers park. Time to hire an accomplished GM and have dumb and dumber stay out of his way. That’s the problem.

  5. bbnate420 says:

    Also, I think at least some of the pitching regression has to do with our 3-5 starters in 2013. I don’t think it is purely to do with the ballpark changes.

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