If you’re into baseball offense, Funko Field was the place to be last week. The Everett AquaSox’s home field was the site of some deadly slugging conditions.
Everett and Spokane lit off some offensive fireworks during their six-game series last week, leaving pitchers with bruised egos (and ERAs) and parked cars with dented hoods.
The teams combined to score 86 runs during the series, which is 7.2 runs per team per game. To provide some perspective, the league average is 5.2 runs per game.
And the teams did it with the long ball, as Spokane slugged 15 home runs and Everett blasted 13. Four different players hit at least three homers during the series. The 28 homers the teams combined to hit were more than three of the Northwest League’s six teams have hit all season, and the league is nearly 40 games into the schedule.
Now, Funko Field is the best hitter’s park in the league, so it’s not uncommon for crooked numbers to appear on the scoreboard, particularly because of the short porch in right-center. But Everett manager Ryan Scott said this wasn’t a case of loading up on “Funko Field homers.”
“The park does naturally kind of play small, especially in right-center where it’s only about 330 feet,” Scott said. “There were some balls hit up in that area. But the majority of the homers were earned, there weren’t many cheap home runs. Both teams just hit a lot of balls hard.”
The offensive onslaught almost proved disastrous for Everett. After winning the opener the Sox lost four straight, surrendering 44 runs in the process. The Sox were then in danger of letting Sunday’s finale slip away when Walking Cabrera smacked a solo homer to right-center in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Everett a 4-3 victory and salvage two victories in the six-game set. That left the Sox with an 18-20 record, which puts Everett in fifth place in the league standings, three games out of first.
“That was huge,” Scott said about Cabrera’s game-winning homer. “For us to finish the series with a win and feel good going into Eugene this week, we’ll be able to come in with a little confidence. It was really good to finish out the series with a win after losing four in row.”
The week also saw rehabbing Seattle Mariners utilityman Dylan Moore appear in three games with the Sox as he makes his second attempted comeback from an oblique injury — he had a previous rehab stint in late April shut down. Moore went 2-for-8 with a pair of walks, playing shortstop in the first two games while serving as the designated hitter in the third. Scott said Moore came through fine physically. Moore’s continued rehab will likely happen for a different team as Scott said Moore won’t travel with the team during it’s upcoming road trip to Eugene.
Players of the week
Hitter: Tyler Locklear. The 22-year-old first baseman, who was selected by the Mariners in the second round of the 2022 draft, has been the club’s most consistent source of offense this season, and last week was no different. Starting all six games, Locklear batted .292 with three home runs and eight RBI, compiling a 1.122 OPS. For the season he’s batting .297 with nine homers, 30 RBI and a .958 OPS in 38 games.
Pitcher: Logan Rinehart. The 25-year-old right-hander, who was a 16th-round pick by the Mariners in the 2019 draft, contributed two scoreless innings in both of Everett’s victories, including holding onto a one-run lead in Sunday’s game. Overall he allowed two hits, two walks and struck out five during his four innings. His five holds are the most in the league.
The week ahead
Everett is back on the road this week as the Sox head to Eugene for a six-game series against the Emeralds that begins Tuesday. Eugene, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, is 21-17 and tied with Spokane for first place in the Northwest League. The Emeralds are coming off a 3-3 series split at home against Hillsboro. The Sox are 1-1 against Eugene this season.
Eugene features one of the Giants’ top prospects in power/speed outfielder Grant McCray (.224, seven homers, 20 RBI, 16 stolen bases), who is ranked by MLB.com as the fourth-best prospect in San Francisco’s system. Third baseman Luis Toribio (.252, eight homers, 24 RBI) leads a balanced offense in OPS at .852.
On the mound, Eugene is allowing the second-fewest runs in the league. Right-hander Carson Ragsdale (2.93 ERA, six walks and 42 strikeouts in 27.2 innings) is second in the league in whiffs.
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