09/26/12 9:54 PM ET
Mariners, all of baseball, striking out more often
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
After Tuesday's troubles, the Mariners had 1,203 strikeouts through 154 games, which put them on pace for 1,265 if they maintain their current average of 7.8 per game. That would be just short of last year's club-record 1,280.
But strikeout numbers across baseball have been climbing in recent years and are at a record pace this year. Consequently, while Seattle's 1,280 strikeouts last year were the most in the American League and fourth out of the 30 Major League teams, this year the Mariners are 10th out of the 14 AL squads and 21st in MLB even though they're on a pretty similar pace.
Mariners pitchers are following the trend. They struck out 1,100 batters through 154 games, which already ranks as the third most in franchise history. The club record for strikeouts by Seattle pitchers is 1,207 set in 1997.
Mariners pitchers need to strike out just 56 more batters to equal the second-highest franchise total of 1,156 set in 1998, which would mean averaging seven per game over the final eight contests starting Wednesday night.
Smoak credits late push to fixing swing flaw
ANAHEIM -- Justin Smoak doesn't want to be known as Mr. September, but the Mariners first baseman is glad to finally see his bat heating up in the final weeks of a frustrating season.
Smoak, 25, hit a pair of home runs in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Angels to raise his September average to .362 (21-for-58) with four doubles, four home runs and eight RBIs in 18 games going into Wednesday night's contest against the Angels.
In just the last 10 games, Smoak raised his batting average from .189 to .212 by going 17-for-36 (.472) with four home runs. Add in six walks during that span and he's reached base in 23-of-42 plate appearances for a .548 on-base percentage.
Smoak said he's been tinkering with his swing, looking for answers most of the season, and things finally started clicking when he went back to something his dad used to tell him.
"In Little League, high school, college, when I'd start to struggle he'd say keep both hands on the bat," said Smoak, whose father died of cancer last year. "He was as old-school as you could possibly be. Of course then I was like, 'Right, whatever.'
"But that's what I've gone back to, especially left-handed, and it seems to be working out right now."
And, yeah, he wonders as well why it took so long to figure things out.
"It frustrates you because you've finally get something worked out and it's the simplest of things," he said. "You're thinking, 'Why couldn't I have done this five months ago?' But I like where I'm at right now, I like what I'm doing work-wise in the cage and BP and I just need to keep that going."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge is thrilled to see the late push from a youngster who can be a difference-maker as a middle-of-the-order threat.
"It's a big deal," said Wedge. "You're talking about a power-hitting switch-hitter who is a very good defensive first baseman. He just fits into all this so well. But he has to produce and that's what he's been doing the last couple weeks. He's done some things fundamentally that are real. It's not just a coincidence and that makes it all the more encouraging as far as I'm concerned."
Mariners fill long vacant scouting position
ANAHEIM -- Tom Allison, a veteran of 18 years of scouting with four different organizations, was named Wednesday as the Mariners' new director of professional scouting.
Allison, 45, was most recently a scout for the Red Sox in 2011-12. Prior to that he spent four years as director of scouting for the D-backs from 2007-10.
Allison fills a vacancy that hadn't been filled since Carmen Fusco was dismissed in September 2010.
"We are excited about the addition of Tom Allison to our organization as Director of Pro Scouting," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. "He brings a level of experience with his background as a crosschecker, scouting director, Minor League player and front-office executive. He is a well-rounded individual and his contributions will be an asset to the Seattle Mariners."
Allison spent seven seasons in the Brewers scouting department from 2000-06, working with Zduriencik in Milwaukee, and also has 10 years with the Mets. He played as an infielder and coached in the Mets' farm system from 1990-94.
Allison grew up in Vancouver, Wash., and played baseball at Loyala Marymount University in Los Angeles before earning his degree in Legal Studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
Outfielder Michael Saunders was expected to rejoin the Mariners on Wednesday night and manager Eric Wedge said he'd be back in the lineup for Thursday's series finale with the Angels after his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter, on Tuesday in Colorado.
Saturday afternoon's game at Oakland will not be televised, as the game is scheduled during the FOX-TV exclusive window at 1:07 p.m., but has not been picked up by FOX.
Sunday's 1:07 p.m. series finale in Oakland will be on KTTH 770-AM radio instead of ESPN 710 Seattle, because of a conflict with the Seahawks game that day. That game will be televised on ROOT Sports.