The Mariners showed some resiliency this week. After the dismal home stand, they embarked on a long 9 game in 10 day road trip that took them all over the country to New York, Cleveland and the southern LA suburbs. Not only did they survive the road trip, they thrived. They went 4-2 this week and 6-3 overall on the road trip. They managed to take 2 out of 3 of all 3 teams they played. They erased the sour taste of that first home stand and got back to 9-9. Lets look at what happened.
On the Road Again
The Mariners have spent a lot of time on the road in the month of April. In total, 12 of their first 18 games have been away from Safeco. This particularly week had them rolling into Cleveland, where I’m sure they spent a lovely off day on Monday. After a couple more games of offensive struggles, the bats finally came to life in the third game. The Mariners put up a 10 spot on the board and came out of there with a series win.
Next up was Anaheim, and the bats just kept going. They took 2 out of 3 in the series, and scored a combined 16 runs over the 3 games.
The Mariners are slowly starting to see their truly awful BABIP (Batting Average with Ball In Play) to start the season stabilize. While it is still second worst in the majors at .247, that is up from an almost impossibly bad .220 to start the year.
Just to clarify, league average batting average on balls in play is around .290, and on the team level, the stat tends to stabilize over the course of the year. What it shows is an amazing amount of bad luck with the early season hitting struggles.
Mowing Them Down
Of as much of an impact last week as the hitting was the pitching. Felix has been Felix throughout, but a bit of a surprise has been the emergence of Taijuan Walker as his #2 of the future. In his first 4 starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 2.08 FIP in 25 innings. He is hitting 97 at will with his fastball with a devastating curve ball. He picked up a change up last year from Felix himself and has developed that into a very good pitch as well. The sky is the limit for the 23 year old.
Another big surprise is the bullpen.
Steve Cishek has been a revelation in the closer role so far. He has only given up a single run in 10 IP and already has 5 saves on the season. In these close leads he has kept the 9th inning quiet.
All these things have me cautiously optimistic about this team moving forward. Apart from the 5 game losing streak at home, the team is looking quite solid. The roster is well constructed, and the players are starting to perform. The rest of the division has also waited for them, as Texas and Oakland have both hit a bit of a cold stretch, and Houston is off to a surprisingly dismal start. All this bode well for the Mariners as they have crawled back to .500.