After completing the sweep of the LA Angels, there is an atmosphere of optimism and hope around this team that hasn’t existed since the beginning of the season when the Mariners were the sexy surprise pick to make the playoffs.
The youngsters are playing well, and the old youngsters *ahem Justin Smoak ahem* are finally starting to figure it out.
The offense has been on such a clip, in fact, that the Mariners are Second In Baseball in Home Runs. SECOND! Tied with the Blue Jays and behind only the Baltimore Orioles.
Averaging over 7 runs per game in the month of June, the M’s are currently rolling on a streak of 22-games with a home run. The record is 27, held by the 2002 Rangers.
So the home runs have been great. But with an increased OBP, those dingers will be even sweeter in the second half of the season.
To be honest, though, this post is more about the detriment of the long ball on a Mariners All-Star. And no, it’s not the King, who has won 10 games before the All-Star break for the first time in his career.
This is about Iwakuma, who on the season has given up 21 home runs, good for second in the league behind the Angel’s Joe Blanton (who even today offered one up to Michael Saunders today).
Even since his days in Japan, the elevated pitch that leads to a ball over the fence has been Iwakuma’s weakness. His .94 WHIP this season is phenomenal, and for a time ‘Kuma led the league in ERA.
But the Long-Ball-Bug has finally come back to bite him in the ass. Rejoice all you Sabermetricians! Regression to the mean is a thing.
‘Kuma has given up at least one home run in each of the last 5 games. Over those five games 11 balls have left the yard against him. And in the last 6 games he has given up 25 Earned Runs. One game he only lasted 3 innings giving up 3 long balls. Those numbers sounds a-typical of an All-Star starting pitcher.
However, if you praise the numbers, this rough patch should be over and Iwakuma should resume quality– but not unrealistic– pitching after the break. It’s great to see him in the ASG, but he needs to come back from the experience (even though he will not be on the active roster) with stuff low in the zone and away from the hitters.
If he can do that, and the King can remain as regal as ever, the Mariners could very well make a push to .500 here at the end of the season.