06/10/10 12:24 AM ET
Warm weather could mean hot bats in finale
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
For Seattle, there are many telling statistics to explain why they haven't jelled with the bats. But wins and losses matter more than anything else in baseball, and Seattle is 19-9 when scoring four or more runs, compared 4-27 when scoring three runs or less.
The former has been catching up with the latter a little bit lately, and hitting coach Alonzo Powell said it might be because the weather has warmed up.
"We were joking around a little in Anaheim that other than playing in [St. Petersburg], where it was in the 90s but we played inside, that it was the first time we saw 80 [degrees] since Spring Training," Powell said. "All hitters want to play in warm weather so they don't have to worry about getting jammed and hurting their hands and fingers. You just feel more comfortable when the weather is warm."
The game-time temperature in a Mariners game has dipped as low as 45 degrees, and three games have started in the 40s, including 48 degrees at Safeco Field on May 4, and 46 degrees in Chicago on April 25.
That, of course, has not been a problem in Texas, and for the Rangers, Andrus has been as hot as the June weather. Already known for his defensive prowess, Andrus has been a force at the plate and on the bases this year. He went hitless in Wednesday's game, which snapped a 13-game hitting streak, which was the longest active streak in the Majors, but he's still batting .304 with 19 RBIs, 40 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.
When asked what the key has been to his offensive surge, Andrus, 21, recently answered with veteran humility, tipping his cap to teammate Michael Young.
"The key is having Mikey hitting behind me," Andrus said. "He has been getting key hits his whole career and the pitchers don't want to face him. They want me to get the hit, not Mike. So I use that as an advantage. They don't want me on base and have to face Mike."
Mariners: Rowland-Smith rebounding
Lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith turned in an admirable effort in his last start, which marked his return to the rotation after a stint in the bullpen. He gave up one run in five tough innings against the Angels. "Just keep things simple," Rowland-Smith said when asked what he needs to continue doing. "I went out in a much better frame of mind, in a better mood. I just felt like I was going out there to enjoy it and that calmed me down. I figured if I kept the ball down and got ahead [in the count] I would be alright. There was nothing else to worry about. It worked." ... Shortstop Josh Wilson has a hit in 18 of his last 21 games since May 18, batting .351 (27-for-77) during the stretch.
Rangers: Hunter a history-maker
Thursday starter Tommy Hunter notched a complete-game victory in his first Major League start of the season last time out against Tampa Bay, and he made some history in the process, becoming the first Texas pitcher to throw a complete game in a season debut since Rick Helling did it on April 3, 1998, at Toronto. Hunter, also the first Major League pitcher in 19 years to earn a complete-game victory against an opponent with the best record in the Majors in his first appearance of the season. Hunter made four starts against the Mariners last season, going 1-2 with a 2.59 ERA. ... First baseman Justin Smoak has hit safely in eight of his last 11 games at a .355 (11-for-31) clip. Smoak has five games with multiple walks this season, which ranks second among Rangers to Andrus, who has six.
Thirty-one of the Mariners' 59 games have been decided by one or two runs. Seattle is 7-13 in one-run games and 6-5 in two-run games. The Mariners are tied for the Major League lead for most one or two-run games. ... Rangers designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero has 10 home runs (13 overall) at home this year, which is tied for the second-highest home long-ball total in the Majors.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.