By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Before this three-game series began Friday night, the Seattle Mariners’ 40-54 record through 94 games was a disappointment even when compared to their 43-51 record of 2011 through the same span.
That doesn’t reflect improvements the Mariners have made, even if they haven’t translated to wins.
A year ago through 94 games, the team batting average was .222. This season, that average is .234.
The Mariners have scored 55 more runs than a year ago, averaging 4.01 per game this season compared to 3.21 in 2011.
A year ago, the Mariners had 55 home runs in 94 games.
This year, they’ve hit 82.
Baby steps, certainly, but manager Eric Wedge insisted the Mariners team he watched take three of four in Kansas City while scoring 31 runs was a step forward.
“It was a culmination of a lot of things, the way we played all aspects of the game, even the vibes in the clubhouse and in the dugout,” Wedge said. “That’s the best I’ve seen this club play in my time here.”
Even if it was against a mediocre Royals team.
“This is the big leagues,” Wedge said. “Every team is a good team, you’re always facing good pitchers.”
Hitting a wall
Talking about how Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson slammed into the center field wall in pursuit of Jesus Montero’s home run Thursday, outfielder Michael Saunders understood the feeling.
He has never done it in a game, but thanks to spring training teammate Scott Patterson, he did it during batting practice this year in camp.
“I was running full-out chasing a ball in batting practice and Scott yells ‘You got room!’” Saunders said. “Next thing I know I slam into the chain link fence. I get up and my cap is pointed one way, my sunglasses another, and Patterson said ‘I thought you knew me well enough not to trust me.’
“What made it worse was Justin Smoak was rolling on the grass he was laughing so hard.”
Erasmo Ramirez will throw a simulated game this afternoon, then likely begin a rehabilitation minor league assignment early next week. Expect him to make a couple of starts before rejoining the Seattle rotation … Michael Saunders was given a night off Friday, in part to give him a rest, in part to get Carlos Peguero in the lineup. Saunders will be back in center field tonight.