With the trade deadline looming and rumors swirling, the Mariners bashed their way through the whirlwind of uncertainty, crushing the Tigers, 13-3, and giving Jamie Moyer (14-5) his 14th win of the season.
In taking the first two games of this three-game series with the AL East cellar dwellers, the resurgent M’s pounded out 24 runs and 28 hits, including six home runs. The offense that seemed to have deserted them in June and July has been found, at least temporarily.
Okay, let’s not get too gushy. It is the Tigers. Remember, the worst team in baseball.
Regardless, the Mariners (65-42) are showing signs of coming out of their mid-season malaise. The Tigers may have the worst record in the game, but these are the same Mariners that two weeks ago, couldn’t break through against the San Diego Padres, the worst team in the National League. In other words, a win is a win and runs are runs.
It’s no secret, the Mariners front office is shopping for hitters. After last night’s breakout performance, on a gorgeous Seattle summer evening, the brass might not be quite so desperate.
Randy Winn continues to quiet critics and trade pundits, blasting two line drives over the right field fence, his seventh and eighth of the season. Winn cleared the bases with a grand slam in the first, capping off a nine-run first that essentially ended the game before it even started and chasing Tiger starter Nate Cornejo (5-9). Winn added a two-run shot in the fifth following Ichiro’s infield single.
Another Mariner enjoying a second half revival is first baseman, John Olerud who hit a three run homer in the first, setting the precedent for quiet unassuming former all-stars. It was Olerud’s sixth of the season and his second in two games against the Tigers, both three-run shots.
His rise has not been as spectacular as Winn’s, but it is equally encouraging, given the power outage that has plagued every Mariner except Bret Boone and Ichiro.
If Olerud and Winn can continue to hit for power and drive in big runs, the Mariners may not need to add that extra hitter they’ve coveted all season. But then again, it’s the Tigers.
Another bright spot evidenced last night was the emergence of Rafael Soriano, the Mariner’s best pitching prospect and possibly the only untouchable Mariner in terms of trade talk. Soriano replaced Moyer, who battled through six innings and gave up three runs in a hard-nosed, blue collar performance, in the seventh.
As the perfect contrast to Moyer’s slow junk, Soriano blew the Tigers away with a sizzling fastball and darting slider. He struck out all six hitters he faced, bringing his consecutive strikeout total to seven. He has 30 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. Mariner fans have not seen pure dominance of that nature since Randy Johnson was traded in 1998.
With Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson in a prolonged funk, Soriano may in line to become the Mariners' premier set-up man for Shiggy Hasegawa, who pitched a scoreless ninth, lowering his microscopic ERA to 0.71.
It’s the Tigers (28-77), you say. That may be true, but the M’s need a spark to start the fire and Randy Winn and Rafael Soriano are providing the flint and steel.