Now that 2014 has officially come to a disheartening end for all of the Mariners’ main minor league affiliates, the time has come to put the year into perspective with SoDo Mojo’s “Minor League Season Recap” series. We first take the thirty minute trip up I-5 to Everett, where the AquaSox managed in just a 76-game sample to lose twenty more than they won.
Starting two months after the full-season leagues, the Northwest League allows teams to propel themselves into the postseason via just one hot two-week stretch with its short season cut into two halves.
However, the AquaSox found out quickly that time can easily work against any club as well, as they followed an Opening Day victory (4-3 at home over Hillsboro) on June 13 with six consecutive defeats, and after righting the ship for a few days, Everett once again found itself on a long skid, losing five in a row near the end of the month. A 13-5 start would have all but guaranteed a First Half title in the North Division; the Sox’s 5-13 June brought “There’s always next Half” into the conversation much too early.
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Already with little to play for until late July, when the standings would reset, the team went into another tailspin as the calendar flipped, dropping another five straight and falling to 1-10 in their last eleven contests. The rest of the First Half did see a little improvement, though, and a stretch of near-.500 baseball in mid-July gave fans a little hope that the Second Half would bring with it an improved product on the field.
But as play concluded on July 21, officially closing the book on the First Half of 2014, the AquaSox were looking up at the rest of the league. Their 11-27 mark was a full three games worse than Tri City, their closest competition, and a whopping 14.0 GB of playoff-bound Spokane, who won the North Division on tiebreakers over Vancouver.
The Second Half began, like the miserable First Half, with a win followed by a loss, but this time Everett were not so susceptible to a long run of poor form. In fact, they proceeded to take five of their next seven, giving pundits a reason to believe that the first 38 games were attributable simply to the lack of adequate sample size.
August began decidedly worse, but Vancouver, Tri City, and Spokane had rough stretches of their own, and the ‘Sox managed to hang in the Second Half division race despite a 4-10 beginning to the month that dropped their overall record to 10-14. In order to put pressure on the division leaders, though, a 8-2 or 7-3 run would be necessary at some point during the last two weeks.
Photo Credit: Dan Hughes
During the final stretch, the AquaSox’s play was just not consistent enough to seriously threaten Vancouver, for whom a 21-17 mark was sufficient for the North Division’s second postseason berth. Everett finished the Second Half at 17-21 (4.0 GB), running their 2014 record to a league-worst 28-48.
In many respects, the 2014 AquaSox mirrored the Mariners of a just a couple years ago. Many of the team’s woes are attributable to the offense, which posted a dismal .231 AVG and scored fewer runs (317) than any other NWL club. The pitching staff, on the other hand, was respectable but by no means dominant, finishing fifth of eight with a 4.24 team ERA.
The offense was to blame for most of Everett’s 2014 miscues…
At the plate, Austin Cousino was the best of a weak group, posting a team-high six homers and 23 stolen bases while batting .266. First baseman Kristian Brito also provided some limited power, also going yard six times in just 141 AB.
Out of the bullpen, Kody Kerski took full advantage of his 25 relief outings, finishing with a 2.95 ERA in 39.2 IP and tying for second on the team with 3 SV. However, Trey Cochran-Gill stole the show late in the year. After being called up in mid-August from rookie-league Pulaski, he pitched 10.2 scoreless innings in seven appearances, including four converted saves.