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Maple Valley Girl Repping Mariners at Pitch, Hit & Run Finals

Kaiea Higa, who is representing the Mariners at the National Pitch, Hit & Run Championships at Petco Park, gets a high five from pitcher Nathan Karns.

Kaiea Higa, who is representing the Mariners at the National Pitch, Hit & Run Championships at Petco Park, gets a high five from pitcher Nathan Karns.

Kaiea Higa of Maple Valley is representing the Mariners today at the Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals competition at Petco Park in San Diego. Higa was the top finisher in her age category (11/12 Softball) at the Pitch, Hit & Run Team Championships at Safeco Field on June 12, and her scores placed her among the top three in the nation. She’ll match up against competitors from Roseville, California (representing the San Francisco Giants) and Jupiter, Florida (representing the Miami Marlins) in the baseball skills competition. Win, lose or draw, when Higa returns from San Diego, she’ll get to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners meet the Houston Astros at Safeco Field on July 17.

Kaiea Higa of Maple Valley, is competing against kids from across the country at the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals during All-Star Week at Petco Park.

Kaiea Higa of Maple Valley, is competing against kids from across the country at the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals during All-Star Week at Petco Park.

Higa was also chosen by MLB as one of two National Finalists to write a blog post about her experience.

Congratulations and good luck, Kaiea. The Mariners are rooting for you.

Mariners Game Information – July 10 at Kansas City

Today;s lineup

Today;s lineup

Game #89 (7/10): Mariners (44-44) at Royals (45-42) | 11:15 am PT | Kauffman Stadium
Starting Pitchers:  LHP Mike Montgomery (2-3, 2.15) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (3-2, 4.05)
Radio: 710 ESPN & Mariners Radio Network…also Mariners.com (MLB.tv subscribers)
TV: The game will be televised in HD on ROOT SPORTS
Live Stats: MLB Gameday will provide a live box score with pitch-by-pitch data
Game Information: Mariners | Royals | Mariners-Royals History

Roster | 2016 Media Guide | Game Notes | Standings | Schedule | MarinersMedia.com | Promotions
Social Media: From the Corner of Edgar & Dave | Instagram | @MarinersPR | @Mariners | @LosMarineros | Facebook

Mariners All-Access from ROOT SPORTS

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This week on Mariners All-Access from ROOT SPORTS:

Conversations at home plate – We recently learned it’s the catcher and umpire who talk to each other the most during a game. So, what exactly are they talking about?

Pitching Mechanics with Wade LeBlanc – The latest addition to the Mariners rotation explains how he developed the grip on his changeup and why it’s become such an effective pitch for him.

Ichiro nearing 3,000 – The former Mariners outfielder is nearing a milestone and his former teammates aren’t surprised. We’ll find out from them what makes Ichiro such a success at 42-years old.

Best Plays of the First Half – Too much good stuff not to go back and re-live it. The best highlights and biggest accomplishments from the first half.

Ken Griffey Jr – With the clock ticking down, we check in with players around baseball on Griffey’s Hall of Fame career as our Countdown to Cooperstown continues.

Mariners All Access airs:

  • Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Monday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
  • Friday at 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday at noon and 6:30 p.m.

Mariners Gameday Information – July 9 at Kansas City

Today's lineup

Today’s lineup

Game #88 (7/9): Mariners (44-43) vs. Royals (44-42) | 1:15 pm PT | Kauffman Stadium
Starting Pitchers:  LHP Wade Miley  (6-5, 5.36) vs. RHP Edison Volquez (7-8, 4.87)
Radio: 710 ESPN & Mariners Radio Network…also Mariners.com (MLB.tv subscribers)
TV: The game will be televised in HD on ROOT SPORTS
Live Stats: MLB Gameday will provide a live box score with pitch-by-pitch data
Game Information: Mariners | Royals | Mariners-Royals History

Roster | 2016 Media Guide | Game Notes | Standings | Schedule | MarinersMedia.com | Promotions
Social Media: From the Corner of Edgar & Dave | Instagram | @MarinersPR | @Mariners | @LosMarineros | Facebook

 

Mariners Magazine | Making It Count

Players often speak about wanting to put together a good at-bat. Sounds right, but exactly what does that mean?

By Kieran O’Dwyer

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The following article is from the July issue of Mariners Magazine. Pick up yours today at any Mariners Team Store, or subscribe to receive all six issues (April-September), plus a free 2016 Mariners Yearbook, delivered to your home or office. Each issue is filled with great action photography, up to date news, player stats and feature interviews.


Let’s start with something that everyone should agree on: a good at-bat is one that results in the batter safely reaching base – whether from a base hit, a walk or getting hit by a pitch – without causing a teammate already on base to get forced out. After that, pretty much every other notion about what constitutes a good at-bat becomes less clear and much more subjective.

For example, some contend a sacrifice is a good at-bat – after all, even though the batter gets put out he has helped advance a base runner into a better scoring position, say from first base to second or second to third. Others, however, would counter that any at-bat that ends in an out cannot be good, unless it involves a base runner tagging up from third base to score.

And what about the batter who forces a pitcher to throw 11 pitches before striking out? Could that possibly be a good at-bat? Such was the case for Nelson Cruz against San Diego reliever Ryan Butcher during the seventh inning of Seattle’s memorable comeback from a 10-run deficit against the Padres on June 2 to win 16-13. Though Cruz struck out, it could be argued that the next batter, Kyle Seager, may have benefited by seeing every pitch Butcher had to offer, before coming up himself and lacing a two-run single, the first of seven in a row by the Mariners that led to a thrilling nine-run inning.

Weeks before this game even took place, Seager, in thinking about what constitutes a good at-bat, had already offered: “Not giving easy outs. Of course you’re trying to score runs, so you’re really trying to make the pitcher work. If you can make the pitcher work, even if you do get out, but you’re making him throw good pitches and execute his pitches, being a little stressful in there, that’s what you’re looking for.”

Have A Plan

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The discussion about good at-bats and their outcomes could continue through many scenarios, and include the mental side – such as the need to have a clear mind and block out numerous potential distractions, ranging from fear of failing to dealing with various aches and pains to playing in a hostile environment, just to name a few.

But for hitting coach Edgar Martinez the possibility of even having a good at-bat begins well before the batter even steps to the plate.

“Most important is to already have a purpose when you go to the plate,” said Martinez, who hit .312 and owned a .418 on-base percentage during his exceptional 18-year career. “When you have that you got a better chance to have a good at-bat. Good players don’t give up at-bats by looking for one pitch and then swinging at another pitch.

“Even when they get two strikes. Each player is different. Each player chooses an approach of what he’s going to do when he gets to two strikes. And one thing might work for one player but not for another. But each player should have something that they can use when they get to two strikes. Some guys will choke up, some will spread their legs, some get closer to the plate, some will shorten their swing. Each one has something different, but it’s important to use that.

“Most important is to already have a purpose when you go to the plate.”

– Hitting coach Edgar Martinez

“To me, having a plan and a good approach and being prepared are all important. When you have these, it helps you know how the pitcher is throwing to you, how the catcher is calling the game. It’s about being prepared going into the game and being aware during the game. And sticking with that plan.”

Control the Zone

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In this era of power-pitching bullpens and record-high strikeout rates among batters, Martinez’s insights on hitting – which align with the philosophy espoused by General Manager Jerry Dipoto, Manager Scott Servais and Director of Player Development Andy McKay – seem more critical than ever for batters to pay attention to.

It’s been well documented by now that the organization has placed particular emphasis on ensuring that all of its players, from Rookie ball to the Majors, possess a sound approach at the plate, that they “control the strike zone” rather than allowing the pitcher to dictate the at-bat. It’s easy to see why. If batters aren’t getting on base, then they aren’t scoring runs – both of which have been significant issues for the Mariners in recent years, having ranked near the bottom of the league in on-base percentage and runs scored.

Prior to the season, Dipoto spoke of signing players who put the ball into play, get on base and are tough outs. Servais subsequently noted: “For the most part, that’s something we said we wanted to address, controlling the strike zone, being a tougher out, and trying to create more opportunities to score runs.”

Thus far, the results of this approach are bearing fruit thanks to a remarkable turnaround in key statistical categories: the Mariners are striking out less, getting on base more and scoring more runs. Through early June, Seattle ranked 23rd (of 30 teams) in the Majors in strikeouts, while placing 5th and 4th overall in OBP and runs scored. Compare that to last season, when the team finished with the 4th most strikeouts in the Majors, while ranking 22nd in OBP and 21st in runs scored.

Understand Counts

Statistics bear out that a major factor of whether or not a batter finds success at the plate comes down to the count during the at-bat. Thus, getting into a good hitter’s count is vital to a positive outcome. Through early June, the five counts with the highest rates of success for a batter were 3-0, 3-1, 1-0, 0-0 and 2-0, respectively, according to baseballreference.com. Simply put, the batter’s chances of getting on base are much better when he is ahead in the count.

As for the least successful counts? It’s no surprise that having two strikes (0-2, 1-2, 2-2 and 3-2) and being behind in the count (0-1) offer the least hope for the batter to win the battle at the plate – with the worst being 0-2, during which batters hit .151.

The critical midpoints? The 1-1 and 2-1 counts. Take for example the 1-1 count: batters who get to a 2-1 count hit .334 in that situation, whereas batters who fall to a 1-2 count hit just .163. Similarly, with the 2-1 count, batters who get to a 3-1 count hit .368, whereas batters facing a 2-2 count hit just .174.

With such disparity in numbers determining success versus failure, it’s no wonder the most successful players step to the plate with at least a general plan of attack and, importantly, a clear mind.

“You have to know what kind of a player you are and be completely confident when you go up there,” said Robinson Canó. “There are guys, including myself, who cannot go up there all the time and take one or two strikes. You got to be ready. There are some guys who can take one strike or pitches to get deeper into the count. You got [Norichika] Aoki, he’s a guy that can take a lot of pitches, a guy who is patient at the plate. But not everybody can be like that. You have to know yourself.”

Speaking of Aoki, his solid on-base percentage and low strikeout rate during his Major League career fit right into the Mariners plan to get players on base and scoring more often. Much like Canó, Aoki recognizes that having a good at-bat depends in large part on knowing who he is as a player.

“You have to know what kind of a player you are and be completely confident when you go up there.”

– Robinson Canó

“One of the big things that I was taught is the baseball is a talent related sport,” said the 34-year-old outfielder. “Counts such as 1-0, 2-1, [and] 3-1, I try to put myself in the most advantageous position where I could be aggressive. I’m always trying to be in a better position to hit by being in a good count. I do things a little different from two strikes. I might shorten up the bat. I’ll definitely look at scouting reports to see how the pitcher pitches with two strikes. And then just try not to be an easy out.

“Especially because I’m not a big power guy, I’m not going to go out there and hit 20 or 30 home runs, so I have to really put myself in a good position to succeed. I feel every player is unique. I just try to bring what I can to the table. All the effort I’ve put in over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m this type of a hitter and this is what I need to do to succeed.”

Feed the Machine

051116_107 BVHBack to that game against San Diego. The Mariners had cut into the Padres seemingly insurmountable 12-2 lead by plating five runs in the sixth inning, including a three-run blast by Dae-Ho Lee. Even so, according to baseballreference.com, Seattle’s chances of winning the game as they entered the seventh inning stood at two percent. Of course, 13 batters came to the plate that inning, resulting in nine runs on eight hits, one walk and one hit batsman. True to himself, Aoki started the rally by making contact on a 1-2 pitch and hitting a grounder up the third-base line for an infield single. Interestingly, five of the eight hits came with two strikes. Go figure!

It’s worth noting that through five innings, Padres starter Colin Rea had set the Mariners down in order in three innings, while facing only 18 batters and throwing just 64 pitches, including four innings of 13-or-fewer pitches. So, were all or most of those Mariners plate appearances “bad” at-bats? Not necessarily; Seattle just happened to be facing a pitcher who, early on, was locating his pitches and getting ahead in the count. Of the 15 outs the Mariners made through the first five innings, 10 were recorded by Rea in favorable pitchers’ counts of 0-1, 0-2 and 1-2.

Of course, baseball is a nine-inning game and during the sixth and seventh innings the Mariners began to take advantage of a tiring Rea and then, perhaps channeling their inner Seager, made the revolving door of four relievers work hard and feel the stress of each at-bat. Of Seattle’s 22 at-bats in those two innings, only one out came in one of those three pitchers’ counts. Meanwhile, six at-bats were pushed to full counts, resulting in three hits and a walk – with all four batters eventually scoring.

Ultimately, the best result of a good at-bat is one that produces a run – whether by getting on base and scoring, or by sacrificing a runner home. Clearly, Servais was on to something about the 2016 Mariners when he pointed out: “[We’re] going to play tight games, so [it’s] the ability to get on base and create consistent opportunities to score. And it’s not just a double off the wall and somebody gets a hit to drive them in, or you hit one out of the park. It’s a walk, it’s a hit, you move a guy over, you get a sac-fly. It’s different ways to score.”

And it starts with a good at-bat.


Kieran O’Dwyer is a freelance sportswriter based in New York.

 

Robinson Canó Named to the A.L. All-Star Team

Cano-ASG-1After posting yet another stellar first half, Robinson Canó has been named to the American League All-Star team for the 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, to be played Tuesday, July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego. Canó is making his 7th All-Star Game appearance, T5th-most among active players, and his 6th Midsummer Classic appearance in the last seven years. Canó was also selected to the All-Star Game in 2006 and 2010-2014.

Canó is batting .302 (104×344) with 59 runs, 20 doubles, 1 triple, 19 home runs and 54 RBI in 84 games. Canó’s 19 home runs are the 3rd-most in his career before the All-Star break while his 54 RBI are 5th-most in his career before the break.

Canó credited Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez with his success at the plate this season.

“We [Canó and Martinez] worked from the beginning, doing everything in the cage,” Canó said. “I told him earlier, ‘You’re a part of that’…I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Edgar.”

Among American League leaders, Canó ranks T7th with 19 home runs, T10th with 54 RBI, 12th with a .532 slugging percentage, 14th with a .889 OPS, 6th with 183 total bases and T8th with 30 multi-hit games.

“Robbie’s had a great first half for us,” manager Scott Servais said. “He really led our team. He had the home run binge early on in the season, and he’s been out there every day. Nice to see him back healthy again this year and excited for him to get this opportunity. He certainly deserved it.”

Follow along as Canó takes the field in the 2016 All-Star Game at Petco Park on Tuesday, July 12th at 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT. The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and will be broadcast on ESPN Radio.

Robinson Canó has been selected to the MLB All-Star Game for the 7th time in his career.

First Half Highlights

  • With a 2-run single on April 26 vs. Houston, Cano recorded his 1,000th career RBI in his 1,707th career game, becoming the 5th-fastest 2nd baseman to reach that milestone. Cano trailed only Tony Lazzeri (1,417 games), Jeff Kent (1,486 games), Bobby Doerr (1,552) and Charlie Gehringer (1,593 games).
  • He belted his 10th career grand slam on April 26 vs. Houston. Canó’s 10 career grand slams rank T7th-most among active players.
  • Canó was named American League Player of the Week for May 2-8 after batting .516 with 4 home runs and 9 RBI in 7 games.
  • From April 30 through June 5, he reached base safely in 34 consecutive games while batting .324.
  • Canó recorded 2 or more hits in five straight games from May 1-5, batting .545 with 5 runs, 3 doubles, 1 home run and 6 RBI during that stretch.
  • On May 2 at Oakland, Canó became the 5th second baseman in Major League history with 2,000 hits, 450 doubles, 200 home runs and 1,000 RBI, joining Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent and Rogers Hornsby.
  • With his 1,000th career run on June 5 at Texas, Canó became one of six players with at least 1,000 runs and 1,000 RBI through their first 12 seasons, joining Matt Holiday, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee.
  • Canó hit his 247th home run as a 2nd baseman on June 17 at Boston, surpassing Joe Gordon (246) to become the American League leader in homers as a 2nd baseman.
  • Canó reached 50 RBI before the All-Star Break for the 6th time in his career (also: 2010-14).

The Numbers Behind the Mariners 7-2 Homestand

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle MarinersThe Mariners went 7-2 on their recently-completed nine-game homestand, taking two of three from St. Louis, splitting a two-game series with Pittsburgh and sweeping AL East-leading Baltimore in a four-game series.

Seattle’s .778 winning percentage vs. the Cardinals, Pirates and Orioles marked the 11th homestand in club history with at least a .750 winning percentage (minimum 9 games).

Seth Smith led the club with a scorching .379 (11×29) average over the homestand while hitting 4 home runs – including his first career grand slam –  and driving in 11 runs. Smith did most of his damage in the 4-game sweep of the Orioles, as he homered in four straight games and posted 4 RBI in back-to-back games. He became one of 11 different Mariners to homer in 4 straight games and one of 9 different Mariners to record 4+ RBI in consecutive games.

Hisashi Iwakuma picked up two wins on the homestand as he walked just 1 batter over 12.2 innings pitched in two starts. Meanwhile, Edwin Diaz led all Mariners pitchers with 13 strikeouts in 6 appearances out of the bullpen. During the homestand, Diaz began an active streak of 10 consecutive outs recorded via strikeout, equaling the Mariners club record for consecutive outs via strikeout (also: Randy Johnson, 7/13-18/97).

Adam Lind jumpstarted the homestand with a 3-run walk-off home run to lift the Mariners over the Cardinals, 4-3, on June 24. It was Lind’s 4th career walk-off home run and his 6th walk-off hit overall. The Mariners lead the Major Leagues with 4 walk-off homers this season (Dae-Ho Lee, Chris Iannetta, Leonys Martin and Lind).

The following night, the Mariners clinched the series win over the Cardinals, as the bullpen struck out 6 over 4.0 scoreless innings in relief. Steve Cishek closed out the 5-4 victory with his first of four saves on the homestand.

 Steve Cishek pitches against the Cardinals on Turn Back the Clock Night on June 25. Cishek was 4-for-4 in save opportunities on the homestand, tossing 4.1 scoreless innings while striking out 6.


Steve Cishek pitches against the Cardinals on Turn Back the Clock Night on June 25. Cishek was 4-for-4 in save opportunities on the homestand, tossing 4.1 scoreless innings while striking out 6.

In the series opener against the Pirates on June 28, Iwakuma earned his first of two wins on the homestand.  Robinson Canó and Kyle Seager led the way at the plate by posting 3 hits apiece, while Nelson Cruz connected for one of his three home runs over the 9-game homestand.

The Mariners dominated their 4-game sweep over Baltimore, outscoring the Orioles, 31-15, while clubbing 23 extra-base hits. It was the Mariners first 4-game sweep since July 26-29, 2012 vs. Kansas City and just their second 4-game sweep of Baltimore (also: June 22-25, 2000).

The Mariners bats came alive in a big way vs. Baltimore, beginning with the first of Smith’s 4 home runs in Seattle’s 5-3 series-opening win on Friday.

Seattle clubbed five home runs in Saturday’s 12-6 win, highlighted by a pair of homers from Mike Zunino in his 2016 Mariners debut.

The Mariners 23 extra-base hits against the Orioles equaled the 2nd-most extra-base hits in a 4-game series in club history  (also: July 2-5, 2001 at Texas).

Seth Smith hit .379 (11x29) with 4 home runs - including his first career grand slam - and 11 RBI over the 9-game homestand.

Seth Smith hit .379 (11×29) with 4 home runs – including his first career grand slam – and 11 RBI over the 9-game homestand.

The Mariners also belted 10 home runs vs. Baltimore, just the 10th time in franchise history to hit 10+ home runs in a 4-game series and the first since Sept. 21-24, 2006 at the White Sox.

After a seven-game road swing to Houston and Kansas City, followed by the All-Star Break, the Mariners will return home for a six-game homestand vs. the Astros and White Sox beginning Friday, July 15 at Safeco Field.

 

Mariners Game Day Information – July 4 at Houston

Lineup 7-4

Starting Pitchers:  LHP Wade Miley (6-4, 5.58) vs. RHP Lance McCullers (3-2, 3.91)
Radio: 710 ESPN & Mariners Radio Network…also Mariners.com (MLB.tv subscribers)
TV: The game will be televised in HD on ROOT SPORTS
Live Stats: MLB Gameday will provide a live box score with pitch-by-pitch data
Game Information: Mariners | Astros | Mariners-Astros History

Roster | 2016 Media Guide | Game Notes | Standings | Schedule | MarinersMedia.com | Promotions
Social Media: From the Corner of Edgar & Dave | Instagram | @MarinersPR | @Mariners | @LosMarineros | Facebook

Mariners Gameday Information – July 3 vs. Orioles

Game Information07.04 Lineup BAL-SEAGame #82 (7/3): Mariners (42-39) vs. Orioles (47-33) | 1:10 pm PT | Safeco Field
Starting Pitchers:  RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (7-6, 4.34) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (5-7, 6.63)
Radio: 710 ESPN & Mariners Radio Network…also Mariners.com (MLB.tv subscribers)
TV: The game will be televised in HD on ROOT SPORTS
Live Stats: MLB Gameday will provide a live box score with pitch-by-pitch data
Game Information: Mariners | Orioles | Mariners-Orioles History

Roster | 2016 Media Guide | Game Notes | Standings | Schedule | MarinersMedia.com | Promotions
Social Media: From the Corner of Edgar & Dave | Instagram | @MarinersPR | @Mariners | @LosMarineros | Facebook

Mariners Gameday Information – July 2 vs. Orioles

Game Information

Lineup

Game #81 (7/2): Mariners (41-39) vs. Orioles (47-32) | 7:10 pm PT | Safeco Field
Starting Pitchers:  LHP James Paxton (1-3, 4.15) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (4-5, 4.50)
Radio: 710 ESPN & Mariners Radio Network…also Mariners.com (MLB.tv subscribers)
TV: The game will be televised in HD on ROOT SPORTS
Live Stats: MLB Gameday will provide a live box score with pitch-by-pitch data
Starting Lineups: Starting lineups will be posted on MarinersMedia.com and Twitter when they become available
Game Information: Mariners | Orioles | Mariners-Orioles History

Roster | 2016 Media Guide | Game Notes | Standings | Schedule | MarinersMedia.com | Promotions
Social Media: From the Corner of Edgar & Dave | Instagram | @MarinersPR | @Mariners | @LosMarineros | Facebook

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