By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Northwest League hit the reset button Tuesday, and Everett AquaSox manager Dave Valle had a one-word reaction:
The season’s first half ended Monday, meaning every team’s record reverted back to 0-0 Tuesday for the start of the second half. For the Sox, that meant slamming the book on what was a historically bad half of baseball.
“I think back to my grade school days when the teacher would take that wet rag and just wipe the slate clean,” Valle said. “That’s what we’re doing today.”
Monday’s 3-0 loss at Spokane gave Everett a final first-half record of 11-27. That’s the worst record in a half since the Northwest League adopted the split season in 2010. The previous worst mark was the 12-26 record Spokane suffered through in the first half of 2012.
Everett’s struggles were consistent throughout the first half. The Sox lost all 10 of their first-half series, and they have yet to win back-to-back games this season.
Therefore, the Sox are ready for the fresh start.
“Yeah, it’s very good (to get a fresh start),” Sox first baseman/catcher Kyle Petty said. “Obviously, we struggled a little bit in the first half.
“We had a lot of moves early, guys going up and down, and we had a hard time trying to solidify that lineup and make things jell,” Petty added. “Having new guys come in and out makes it a little tough.”
The biggest issue for Everett in the season’s first half was offense. Everett Memorial Stadium is the best hitters park in the league, yet the Sox finished dead last in the league in batting at .229, and they were second-to-last in runs scored with 145. The Sox also struck out 354 times, an average of 9.3 per game. That’s a pace short of the league record for strikeouts in a season — 791 by Everett in 2007 — but it’s in the ballpark.
“We need to play better baseball in every facet of the game,” Valle said. “We need to catch the ball better, which I think we’re capable of doing. We clearly need to hit the ball better and strike out less, put the ball in play a little bit more. Good things happen when you make good solid contact. That’s our goal for the second half.”
The Sox also were victimized by one-run losses. Everett finished 4-12 in games decided by a single run.
“We lost a lot of one-run games, and that makes it tough,” Petty said. “But the last couple days we’ve been in some tight games and pulled out some wins. Hopefully the tide is turning and we can start winning those one-run games. That’s what makes or breaks your record, those close games. If you can find a way to win those it can take you a long way.
“It’s about staying confident, trusting each other as a whole unit, and realizing we can win those one-run games,” Petty added. “We’ve battled back late in games and that just goes to show it’s not over until it’s over, we have to realize that if we’re down two runs in the eighth it’s not over.”
And the Sox are hoping the start of the second half flips the switch.