AquaSox trending upwards after 5-game sweep

The team desperately needed a turnaround and now sits just 5 games out of 1st place.

Jimmy Joyce

Jimmy Joyce

The Everett AquaSox were in desperate need of a turnaround. Last week the Sox pivoted on a dime, and now Everett’s season is finally headed in a positive direction.

The Sox swept their five-game home series against the Hillsboro Hops last week, ending a dire stretch of results and getting Everett back in contact with the rest of the Northwest League.

“It was easily our best series of the season,” Everett manager Eric Farris said. “We practiced well, our messaging was good, and although some of the games were not particularly pretty — we got a little sloppy at times — we found ways to win. We made plays and made pitches when it counted.

“Overall the team is in a better spot, you can feel the momentum and energy shift.”

Everett entered the week sinking worse than the Titanic. The Sox had lost five straight, including being shut out in the last three. As a result they were in last place in the league standings and had dropped 4.5 games behind the next-worst record.

But after last Tuesday’s opener against Hillsboro was postponed because of health and safety protocols on the Hops’ side, the Sox went on a streak unlike anything they’d put together so far this season. Everett hadn’t won more than two games in a row before last week, but after the series sweep the Sox improved to 16-21 and are now just five games behind league-leading Spokane.

The biggest turnaround for Everett came on the offensive side. The Sox scored 33 runs in the five games against Hillsboro, good for 6.6 per game. Prior to that Everett was averaging 3.9 runs per contest, and the Sox scored a measly 15 runs in their six games against Tri-City.

“Hitting is so up and down,” Farris said. “We want our highs to be high, but we want to stay away from the low lows. This week we swung the bats better — though we didn’t tap into our potential by any means, we still have more room to grow. But we were more consistent, we were able to compete, we had a lot more timely hitting and we were able to manufacture some runs.

“Overall our execution was just much better in every aspect,” Farris added. “We played a lot better defense, and our pitchers were able to go deep into games and give us opportunities to come out with the lead in most of the games. It was pretty much more-complete baseball on both sides of the ball.”

Players of the week

Hitter: Andy Thomas. The 23-year-old catcher, who was the Seattle Mariners’ fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft, only appeared in three of the five games in the series. However, he put up big numbers — 5-for-10 with a home run and four RBI — and he produced when Everett needed it most, singling to drive in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 3-2 victory, then hitting the tiebreaking two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh of Friday’s 7-5 win.

Pitcher: Jimmy Joyce. The Sox desperately needed a quality start in the series opener, and boy did Joyce deliver. The 23-year-old right-hander, selected by the Mariners in the 16th round of the 2021 draft, turned in his best outing of the season when he tossed six innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out six in Wednesday’s 3-2 triumph. For his efforts, he was named the Northwest League’s Pitcher of the Week.

The week ahead

The Sox are back on the road this week as they head to Spokane for a six-game series against the Indians beginning Tuesday. This is the second series of the season between the two teams, with Spokane winning four of six when the teams met in Everett from April 26 to May 1.

Spokane, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, is coming off a series in which it took five of six at home against Eugene. The series catapulted the Indians into first place in the Northwest League, two games ahead of Vancouver.

Spokane, which leads the league in runs scored by a large margin, is led by switch-hitting catcher Drew Romo, who is listed by MLB.com as the Rockies’ second-best prospect and the 98th-best prospect in all of baseball. Romo is second in the league in batting average (.310) among qualifiers. The pitching staff is paced by right-hander Mike Ruff (3-2, 2.52 ERA, four walks and 39 strikeouts in 35.2 innings).

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