Hitting, pitching, fielding -- the Mariners have it all
Posted: Monday June 02, 2003 11:21 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 03, 2003 2:29 AM
Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson are the only two pitchers to win at least 100 games with the Mariners. Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
By Dan George, SI.com
Where to start with the Seattle Mariners, who, one-third of the way through the 2003 season, quietly have become the best team in either league?
I say “quietly” only because teams that play well in May never seem to get quite the same attention as those that start off with red-hot Aprils. And the Mariners, the new No. 1 team in the SI.com Power Rankings after completing a four-game sweep of the Twins in Minnesota, played well in May. Very well.
Fueled by an offense that averaged 6.1 runs per game, the M’s went 19-8 last month. DH Edgar Martinez led the majors with 30 RBIs in May and tied for the home run lead with 10, while five other regulars (Bret Boone, Jeff Cirillo, Carlos Guillen, Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Winn) batted .300 or better. After hitting a paltry .243 in April, Suzuki banged out a major league-high 44 hits last month, good for a .380 average.
But it ain’t just been hitting. Despite a disappointing start by ace Freddy Garcia (5-6, 5.50 ERA), the Seattle pitching staff’s 3.81 ERA is second only to Oakland’s 3.30. And the relief corps is as good as any in baseball -- Shigetoshi Hasegawa has given up just four earned runs in 29 innings, while opposing hitters are batting a mere .188 against Arthur Rhodes.
No complaints with the gloves, either. The Mariners’ 24 errors are the fewest in either league.
So does Bob Melvin’s team have any weakness? Well, yes. Sort of. The M’s are only 17-11 at home and 22-18 in night games. Not that bad, but … they are 20-8 on the road and 15-0 in day games.
So if you have to play them, try to make it under the lights at Safeco Field.
CNNSI.com's Power Rankings
Seattle Mariners Left-hander Jamie Moyer is 40 years old and, despite a 113-51 record since 1996, never has made an All-Star team. That could change this season. At 8-2, he shares the AL lead in wins.
Atlanta Braves It may not be Curt Flood testing the reserve clause, but potential free agent Gary Sheffield set an intriguing precedent when he fired agent Scott Boras. More than one player will be watching to see what kind of contract Sheffield negotiates for himself.
San Francisco Giants Pinch runner Ruben Rivera looked like one of those old shooting gallery ducks last Tuesday as he crossed and/or tagged second base four times on a dropped fly ball before finally being put out of his misery at home plate. "I sent that guy to run, not to run wild,” said manager Felipe Alou.
New York Yankees Roger Clemens was the third pitcher to go for his 300th win in Detroit -- and the third to fail. Lefty Grove of the Red Sox lost to the Tigers in 1941. Pitching for the Yankees, Phil Niekro lost at Tiger Stadium in 1985.
Montreal Expos Including a six-day homestand in Puerto Rico, they’ll play 22 road games in 25 days before returning to Montreal. But manager Frank Robinson shrugged it off. “With what this team went through last year with the contraction,” he said, “this is a piece of cake."
Oakland Athletics Interleague play has its critics, and rightly so. But don’t include the A’s. Oakland boasts the majors' best record in interleague play, 66-38. The A’s went 16-2 against the National League last season.
Minnesota Twins Roger Clemens isn’t the only pitcher having trouble getting a landmark victory. On Sunday, lefty Kenny Rogers failed Sunday for the fifth consecutive time to earn his 150th career win.
Boston Red Sox Isn’t it time we cut the bullpen a little slack? It’s not like anyone is mistaking the Red Sox rotation for the ’71 Orioles. Take away Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield, and the starters this season are 11-11 with a 5.93 ERA.
Los Angeles Dodgers Utility man Jolbert Cabrera was once shot in the buttocks during a robbery attempt in Colombia. So you can imagine his reaction to being hit twice there by pitches from the Brewers’ Ben Sheets. “I took a bullet there …“ Cabrera said. “The bullet really hurts."
Chicago Cubs Manager Dusty Baker downplayed an MLB order to lower the mound at Wrigley Field by a half-inch. "The mounds are different all over the league," Baker said. "Some look like a molehill. Some look like Mount Everest. You see it all over." The Cubs then gave up 23 runs in three games with the Pirates.
Toronto Blue Jays Cy Young himself might have second thoughts about facing these guys. With Carlos Delgado (.33-16-57) leading the way, they’ve scored 10 or more runs 11 times this season, four times against the Red Sox.
Philadelphia Phillies When the Phillies play host to Oakland next weekend, it’ll mark the A’s first trip to Philadelphia since leaving town for Kansas City after the 1954 season. Eddie Joost, the last manager of the A's in Philly, will throw out the first pitch at one of the games.
Houston Astros Jeff Bagwell celebrated his 35th birthday last week with his first RBI in 74 plate appearances. "I feel a lot older than 35," he said afterward. "I feel about 55."
Kansas City Royals They’re 11-24 since opening the season with 16 victories in 19 games, and the skid is taking its toll on manager Tony Pena’s young team. "I feel like somebody stole my car,” said starter Jeremy Affeldt.
Baltimore Orioles Melvin Mora’s .350 batting average ranks second in the American League. Not bad for a career .249 hitter whose claim to fame entering the season was being the father of quintuplets.
St. Louis Cardinals They rank third among all major league teams in home attendance (36,714) -- but a surprising 26th (22,948) in road crowds. Where’s Mark McGwire when you really need him?
Anaheim Angels They trail the M’s by 9 ˝ games, but insist there’s no need to panic. "I don't think that point comes until later in the summer," Tim Salmon said. "You just wake up one day in August, and you're out of it. But, for us, at this point, I still think everybody's holding out hope for us to get back on track and get some guys healthy.”
Colorado Rockies Intimidated by Coors Field? Not Greeley, Colo., native Shawn Chacon, who is 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA at Coors. "A lot of guys think you have to make every pitch perfect here, and they get themselves in trouble," he said. "I just try to be aggressive."
Cincinnati Reds Adam Dunn is leading the NL with 18 home runs, but he’s also hitting.213. As a result, Dunn has been benched by manager Bob Boone on occasion in favor of Ken Griffey Jr. or Jose Guillen. "I don't blame him for not playing me," he said. "But I'm not happy.”
Chicago White Sox They’re hitting just .206 with runners in scoring position, compared to .290 in 2002. "We stink," said Magglio Ordonez. "That's it. We stink. There are a lot of games left. But if we keep playing like that, we'll be in last place."
Texas Rangers You wouldn’t think players on a last-place team would get too comfortable. But just in case, manager Buck Showalter keeps the stats of the Rangers’ top minor league players posted in a hallway in the clubhouse.
Florida Marlins At 72, manager Jack McKeon doesn’t have time for niceties. After a recent six-game losing streak, he told reporters, “Use whatever [quotes] I gave you yesterday.” The Marlins then rattled off six consecutive wins.
New York Mets Nobody’s saying it out loud, but Mo Vaughn’s career sure looks like it’s over. Vaughn, 35, has seen six doctors about his arthritic left knee, and word is that he might need surgery just to walk again.
Arizona Diamondbacks When team mascot D. Baxter, a costumed bobcat, buzzed the San Diego dugout in a motorcycle, spraying dust in their faces, GM Joe Garagiola Jr. hastily apologized. "It was inexcusable and unprofessional," Garagiola said. Yes, he was talking about a mascot.
Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Lloyd McClendon defended his decision to sit Kenny Lofton last week, even though the 36-year-old outfielder was in the middle of a hitting streak. "I don't want Lofton for one-quarter of the season; I want him for the whole season,” said McClendon. Lofton’s streak ended Saturday at 26.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Rocco Baldelli has gotten the ink, but the Rays’ best hitter may be Aubrey Huff. Last week, the 26-year-old outfielder played his 162nd game since being recalled from the minors last season. In that span, he hit .306 with 36 homers and 88 RBIs.
Milwaukee Brewers Lefty Glendon Rusch (1-8, 7.38 ERA) is winless in 10 straight starts since one-hitting the Pirates for seven innings on April 8, and he leads the majors with 103 hits allowed. His next start will be Thursday against Tom Glavine and the Mets.
San Diego Padres Despite their 16-41 start, GM Kevin Towers insists manager Bruce Bochy's job is secure. Of course, Bochy already has a guaranteed contract for $1.3 million next year.
Detroit Tigers Alex Sanchez’s questionable attitude got him run out of Milwaukee, but so far, so good in Detroit. The speedy outfielder is hitting just .150 since the Tigers traded two minor leaguers for him last week, but he’s 4-for-4 in stolen bases.