By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT The second half of the season has been a reversal of fortunes for the Everett AquaSox. Everett ran away with the Northwest League’s West Division first-half title, going 28-10. However, through the first 12 games of the second half the Sox were a pedestrian 5-7.
So what’s different? Why did the Sox have a winning percentage more than 300 points lower (.737-.416) in the second half going into Monday than they did during the first half?
The explanation isn’t personnel moves. It’s not uncommon for teams that wrap up first-half titles to have a number of standouts promoted, since a playoff berth has already been secured. However, the Sox had just one impact player promoted at the midway point as shortstop Chris Taylor went to Clinton of the mid single-A Midwest League. The rest, including Seattle Mariners first-round draft pick Mike Zunino, remain.
Everett manager Rob Mummau had his take.
“We’ve been not quite as good as we were,” Mummau said. “The little things just haven’t gone as well as the first half of the season. But we’ve talked about it, and they’re still playing hard. They’re still getting after it and going about their business the way they should. The ball just hasn’t gone our was as often as before.”
Mummau’s explanation holds weight. Everett was particularly effective at winning the close ones during the first half. Twenty-one of the Sox’s 38 first-half games were decided by one or two runs, and Everett was an incredible 16-5 in those contests. That table has turned in the second half. Seven of the Sox’s first 12 games in the second half were decided by two runs or fewer, with Everett going 2-5.
It may just be a case of the baseball fates evening out.
“I think that’s exactly what it is,” Mummau said. “Things that were going our way in the first half, the last week they haven’t gone our way. That’s baseball. Over 76 games that’s going to happen.”
Everett’s regular shortstop, Ketel Marte, missed his third straight game Monday because of a sprained shoulder. Marte, who took over the regular shortstop duties after Taylor was promoted, suffered the injury diving back into first base on the final play of Friday’s 4-3 10-inning home loss to Salem-Keizer. However, Marte took batting practice before Monday’s game and is expected to return to the lineup tonight. Brock Hebert has manned short in Marte’s absence.
Meanwhile, sidelined starting pitcher Jose Valdivia is making progress. Valdivia, who spent the first month of the season in the rotation, hasn’t pitched since July 17 because of rotator-cuff tendonitis in his right (throwing) shoulder. When Valdivia was shut down it was unknown how long he would be out. However, he’s resumed throwing and could be back within the next couple weeks.
Sox first baseman Taylor Ard extended his hitting streak to 11 games by going 2-for-4 in Sunday’s 9-5 loss to Salem-Keizer. He batted .418 (18-for-43) in those 11 games with two home runs and nine RBI. … Sunday’s result gave Salem-Keizer a 2-1 win in the three-game series. It was the first time this season the Sox lost a home series after winning the first six. The Sox were 17-5 in those first six home series.
Opponent: Boise Hawks
When: 7:05 p.m.
Where: Everett Memorial Stadium
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Probable starters: Everett left-hander Rusty Shellhorn (1-2, 3.48 ERA) vs. Boise right-hander James Pugliese (1-4, 4.34)