We enjoyed AI-Rick's little metaphor that we "talked him off the ledge" when the M's were 2-6. Sunday, Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith provided him a warm blanket and a medicinal shot of Glenfiddich in the post-crisis ambulance. The M's have whisked up four road series in a row that followed, more or less, the same Bearnaise Sauce recipe:
TEXAS - Cano and Cruz played Long Drive Championship in 10-2 and 9-5 wins. Afterwards, Lone Star Ball questioned the ballclub's March preparation, its 2016 future, and the meaning of life and Robinson Cano.
NYY - The M's crushed the Yankees like a pop can, 7-1, in the opener behind Nate Karns. A classic Felix / DiPoto Bullpen duel won the middle one. The salvage game, the Yankee$ only just escaped with their dignity in an All-NPB one run thriller.
CLE - Miley staked us to an early deficit in a 3-2 loss; Taijuan won a lockdown; and then the M's made the basepaths look like a Cars drag race in the decider. 14 hits, 5 walks, and four smoked hits by Robinson Cano.
LAA - Once again, two games that could have gone either way - call it 1-1, which it was - to go with a resounding M's blowout. The M's recipe for road success is of great sabermetric appeal: coin flip, coin flip, blowout. Coin flip, coin flip, blowout. Seeing as we get 162 iterations of this theme, the coin flips work just fine.
Ah, we know what you're thinking. This team is terrified of Safeco. Dr. D is left with little choice but to talk you off the ledge again. Starting with one fact and one question:
FACT the M's are .530 all-time in Safeco, give or take two points with the roof open and closed. THIS YEAR they are 1-5. I'll take the thousand games over the six games. So will you, being the intelligent denizen that you are. This were true even if the M's get swept by Houston.
QUESTION which Mariner is it that you suppose to be leaking yellow snow down the side of his trousers at the sight of Safeco? I mean, WHICH?
|Specific Ballplayer||Safeco History||Shtick|
|Nori Aoki||NEW||Would prefer the fences to be 500 feet anyway. Think about it|
|Dae-Ho Lee||NEW||Blasted two Michelin balls out of Safeco the first homestand|
|Luis Sardinas||NEW||... see how helpful it is to break generalizations down ...|
|Steve Clevenger||NEW||(4 career AB's now in Safeco)|
|Franklin Gutierrez||Fine||Has no career home/road splits; slugged .558 last year at home|
|Nelson Cruz||that of performing miracles||.304/.375/.517 last year at home. Doubt he's traumatized|
|Adam Lind||Slugs .478 lifetime, 100+ AB's||Has always enjoyed Mariner pitching here|
|Ketel Marte||No home/road split at all in 2015||Just getting started. C'mon|
|Seth Smith||Hit better at home than road in 2015||Two best seasons in SD and SEA. Ibanez-type airport beater|
|Leonys Martin||Hits .284 here lifetime||Only place in baseball he CAN hit. CLICK THIS LINK|
Okay: let's talk about the three guys who could have a problem here. By "the three guys" we do not mean "the 2016 Mariners as an abstraction," and neither should you, Gentle Reader. It is beneath SSI denizenry, with its mean IQ of 143.4, to presume that Dae-Ho Lee has been Pavlov'ed into panicking at Safeco Field.
But Kyle Seager slugged about .370 here last year, .530 away. It is entirely possible that he is being conditioned to expect failure. Dr. D does believe in a mild home-park conditioning effect over the course of several years. Seager looks calm, positive, and happy at the plate in Safeco, and cheerfully lines the ball the other way when he wants to. That said, some conditioning is subconscious. If you want to furrow your brow over Seager VS left hand VS Safeco, that's perfectly reasonable.
Chris Iannetta hits .123 here liftetime, in close to 100 PA's. The bulk of that was probably last year, in his lost season. But! Do note that he was not part of the "home/road syndrome" you thought you were seeing this season. He hit well during our first homestand. That said, he would be the second guy worth watching over the long haul. Safeco conditioning, even though it began before this season started, shouldn't ossify him too badly in the several months' bridge to Zuumball. Look alive, Steve Clevenger.
Robinson Cano has remarked, huge smile on his face, about the hitter mausoleum that is Safeco. For this (natural) attitude alone, he would bear watching. Stats are tough, since his are so warped for 2015. Early returns this year? He's the poster child for any home/road syndrome that exists. Batted .125 with a 2:6 EYE during that Seattle ... week ... batted .295 with 5 homers and a 1.2 EYE in the two weeks away.
Comfort yourself in the concept that a great hitter is a great hitter. Edgar hit well here. All great hitters do.
So the two guys you could legitimately keep your eye on are Seager and Cano ... who bat lefty, correct?
One thing we noticed about watching a couple of games in LAA? Safeco Field doesn't look huge or anything like that. To straightaway left and right, the Big A looked deeper. It's like 365 to straightaway right and then curbs around sharply to a foul pole like Boston. Left field at the Big A has an optical illusion of being very deep because the bullpens are double-stacked in front of the stands. Center is a bit shorter, it's true.
We imagine that pro ballplayers have seen dozens of parks in the majors and minors, and they do NOT walk into Safeco and have their eyes bug out like funny sproing glasses. The dimensions look fine; perhaps center looks a bit long.
Safeco conditioning, if it occurs, takes place because the "popcorn air popper updraft" takes away a well-hit ball, and then another one, and then another one ... conditioning would occur over a period of at least a year-and-a-half.
The M's might lose some games at home this year, but I really don't think you have to watch this homestand from between slitted fingers. Could be the A's pitchers threw a coupla good games.
Speaking of ... Oakland and Texas lost Sunday, which leaves the triumphal Mariners -0.5 games behind. Back when I went to school, the math would have meant that the M's were one day away from taking first place. These days it's anybody's guess :- )