By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Of all the challenges the Seattle Mariners faced in 2012, the toughest may have been turning around their play at Safeco Field.
“It was hard to get that one turned around,” manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday. “It beat the hell out of us, it was constantly in the media and we had to deal with it.
At one point, the Mariners were 18-29 at Safeco Field — and batting under .200 as a team.
Going into their 62nd home game Tuesday, the Mainers were 31-30 at home, with a team average of .215.
“It’s a testament to their toughness,” Wedge said. “They fought through it. You have to win at home if you want to be a championship team,
“We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction. It was a matter of relaxing, of playing like a team. Our pitching kept giving us the chance to win, and all of a sudden our offense was scoring enough runs to make it happen.”
M’s outfielder Michael Saunders said for months, every Mariners hitter tried to change the situation for the team on his own.
“We all tried too hard,” Saunders said. “Eric stayed patient with us, kept telling us it was a matter of one pitch, one swing and a different outcome.”
The power of perfection?
On the morning Felix Hernandez awakened, went to Safeco Field and threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Seattle Mariners ticket sales for Tuesday’s game with Cleveland were just over 11,000.
Immediately after Felix’s perfecto, the team and its fans mapped out his next start and began preparing. Fans wanted to be at the game, and the Mariners put together a marketing idea — King’s Court T-shirts for everyone.
By mid-day Tuesday, the team had sold more than 34,000 tickets for the game.
Mike Carp, on the disabled list with a groin strain, has been throwing and hit Tuesday for the first time as he works his way back.
“I think the plan is to work out here the next few days, stay here when the team flies to Chicago (Thursday) and then go play in Tacoma some time during their trip,” Carp said. “I’m due back around Sept. 1, and I want to be ready to have one solid, healthy month before the season ends.”
Apparently, Eric Thames didn’t get the memo about Safeco Field. While his Mariners teammates have struggled at home much of the season offensively, outfielder Thames has a .417 average there since joining the team in July. … After 123 games, the Mariners entered play Tuesday having scored precisely as many runs this season (483) as they had allowed. … Miguel Olivo is hot: an eight-game hitting streak during which he’s batted .324 with three doubles, two home runs and five RBI. Overall, in 68 games, he’s hitting .219. … With three home runs Sunday and Monday, Michael Saunders homered in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
Larry LaRue, The News Tribune