With Booming Bats & Weak Arms, the Tacoma Rainiers are the Bizarro Seattle Mariners"/>
Since Jack Zduriencik took over as the Seattle Mariners' general manager a couple years ago, he's stuck to a consistent sermon: Exceptional defense and pitching trump the crack of the bat as the key to winning. And at Safeco Field, a notoriously bad park for power-hitters, that may well be true. But it's amazing to look at just how much the Mariners' top farm club, the 2011 Tacoma Rainiers, have put up stats which run directly counter to Zduriencik's philosophy--as well as those of the 2011 Mariners.
Mariner pitchers have compiled a team earned run average of 3.53. Meanwhile, the Rainiers' team ERA is 5.52. At the plate, the Mariners are hitting a cumulative .228, with 68 home runs and 374 runs scored in 113 games. In just three more games, the Rainiers are hitting a combined .294, with 146 homers and 750 runs scored--more than double the big club's output on the latter two counts.
The stat sheet isn't the only area where the two clubs differ. While the Mariners rely on short, wiry contact hitters like Dustin Ackley, Ichiro Suzuki, Adam Kennedy, and Brendan Ryan for much of their offense, the guts of the Rainiers' batting order could be mistaken for the Seahawks' front seven. Newly acquired land crab Wily Mo Pena is 6'3", 280 lbs., while Carlos Peguero (6'4") and Mike Wilson (6'2") tip the scales at 245 lbs. apiece and Matt Tuiasosopo is a sturdy 6'2", 230 lbs. Even the "skinny" guys (220, 215 and 210 lbs., respectively)--Alex Liddi, Michael Saunders and Greg Halman--stand 6'4".
While scoring 12 runs is typically considered a week's work for the Mariners' lineup, the Rainiers do it routinely in the space of a single game. Last night, they beat former Mariner pitcher Brett Tomko and the Round Rock Express 12-7, with the middle of the order--Liddi, Pena, and Peguero--going a combined 7-13 with a homer and six runs batted in. But that trio really exploded last Thursday in a 12-4 win over Albuquerque, going a combined 11-16 with five home runs--three of them by Liddi, a promising third-base prospect who will hopefully make Mariner fans soon forget about the Chone Figgins acquisition.
So until September call-ups, area baseball connoisseurs have but one destination--Cheney Stadium--if they want to consistently see balls fly over the fence. The tickets are a lot cheaper, to boot, and the Cloverleaf boasts better pregame pizza than anywhere in SoDo. They don't call Tacoma the City of Destiny for nothin'.