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Daniel Kramer | Seattle Mariners Insider, MLB.com

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August 29, 2023 5:55 am

Daniel Kramer | Seattle Mariners Insider, MLB.com

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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August 29, 2023 5:55 am

Seattle Mariners insider Daniel Kramer from MLB.com joins the show to talk about the new AL West leaders, and one of the hottest teams in all of baseball.

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For important information, visit Principle.com slash disclosures. Right now to talk to Mariners, we're pleased to welcome Daniel Kramer who covers the team and the sport for MLB.com. This game at home yet again, Daniel. The players have talked about the electricity in their own ballpark. So what's it like to attend a Seattle Mariners home game right now?

Yeah, it's wild, Amy. The crowds have just really started to come out really over the course of the second half. I mean, it's always been a really strong baseball city here, especially when the team's winning.

It's beautiful at this time of year. But we had 37,434 in the house tonight, which is the largest Monday crowd at T-Mobile Park since April 10th, 2017, which was Seattle's home opener that season. And it was against the last place Oakland Club tonight, which kind of tells you about where things are at here in the Pacific Northwest and all the excitement around this team. They're showing really no signs of stopping either, just kind of steamrolling their way offensively through everybody they're playing right now and playing with all the confidence in the world. You're not just hearing it in the clubhouse and how they're talking about it, but you're seeing it out on the field, too. So definitely an exciting time in Seattle with everything that's going on. They are right now the hottest offensive team in the game.

Why? What has gotten into the Mariners, Daniel? Yeah, I think a big part of it is just that they've made better swing decisions. Early in the year, it was just really challenging because they would create a lot of traffic and they lacked that big clutch hit. Scott Service has talked about this a lot, but not really seizing the moment and understanding that the pressure is on the pitcher in those sequences. And you've just kind of seen an overhauled approach to where now they recognize that it's their time to strike.

So I think that's been the key of it. You started to see primary run producers like Teosco Hernandez, Eugenio Suarez, Cal Raleigh heat up. But I mean, the biggest name is obviously Julio Rodriguez and what he's doing right now. If you look at his numbers, they just go as he goes. In wins, he has a 996 OPS.

In losses, he has a 574. I mean, it's just night and day, the production, when they're winning versus when they're losing. And I think it's just kind of rubbed off on his teammates, too. There's a pass the baton mentality when they all go out there and they know that Julio is performing. He just sets the tone near the top of the order. So guys just kind of all clicking at once right now. Is that a little bit precarious, though? A position to be in where so much of what the Mariners do and their success is tied to one guy?

It could be, I guess. But as he started to heat up, he's been arguably the best player in baseball, at least in the American League over the course of August, and he's able to put it together for an extended stretch. Early in the year, you kind of saw him pulling ground balls into the dirt so often. The strikeout numbers were really high, but he made a mechanical adjustment not too long ago, about a month ago, which is coincidentally when some of this stuff started to turn, getting crouched a little bit more, into his lower body more, his stance is a little bit wider, and it gets him into the hitting position much more seamlessly. And it's allowed him to get the ball in the air more, and just his raw athletic talent, when he makes contact, he hits the ball as hard as anybody in the league, and it's no longer going into the ground, it's going into the air, and more often than not, it's clearing the fence.

To answer your question, I think it's also correlated, like I was saying, to the rest of his teammates. J.P. Crawford has stepped up into the leadoff role and really thrived in that spot. He's got the fourth highest on-base percentage since the second half at 440.

He hit another homer tonight, he's starting to sow some slug in his game that we just haven't really seen from him before, so having him as a tone setter to set up Julio, and then like I said, just the mentality from the other guys, the supporting cast, and a lot of them have some elite power too. It's just kind of all clicking right now, and one thing they say in baseball is hitting can be contagious, and you're certainly seeing it with the Seattle Mariners. Red hot August for the Mariners who are now in first place in the AOS, latest in the season that they have held solo possession of first place in 20 years.

It's after hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio, we're spending a few minutes with Daniel Kramer who covers the team for MLB.com. As you look at this recent hot streak of theirs, the majority of the wins have come against teams with losing records, the Royals, the A's tonight, also the White Sox. However, what stands out is a sweep of the Astros in Houston. How significant that series for this team, Daniel?

I think it was very significant because that venue has been really their house of horrors over the past four or five years. A big part of that was related to, they were going through a rebuild at the time that the Astros were an absolute juggernaut in the American League. That definitely correlated to their wins-loss record in Houston, but even when they started to turn things around in recent years, I don't really know if it was a mentality thing or just it would get in their heads, but anytime they would go to Houston, they would struggle. Even last year in the postseason, they played the Astros very tensely in both those games. They were right there in it leading late, but they kind of stumbled into losses and that led to a three-game sweep.

Very close, very competitive, but ultimately a sweep at the end of their season. I think going into Minute Maid Park, completing a sweep, they're 8-2 against the Astros this year, not just proving to the rest of the League that they can beat the defending champs, the juggernauts of the division over the past five, six, seven years, but also proving it to themselves. They still have three games against the Astros here in Seattle to finish the season in the final week, which should be interesting, but they've already clinched the season series, so they will hold head-to-head. That sweep in Houston was huge and a big part of what's gone right for them this month. We know that the offense is leading the way right now for Seattle as they've erased a seven-and-a-half game deficit in the span of the last two weeks, but how does their pitching stack up when you think about maybe a playoff series? Pitching is so important come October, so how does their pitching line up?

That's the thing, Amy. They flirted with 500 pretty much through the first four months of the season. They were in 500 23 days out of the year, which remains an MLB high, all the way up to when they were 50-50. But the conviction in how they were going to turn things around was that they believed so much in their pitching that if their bats could finally pick them up, they would get on the run that we're seeing now. It starts at the top with Luis Castillo, who is really putting together a full-force bid for the American League, Cy Young.

He's right up there in innings, strikeouts, ERA at the top of the league. And then you have these young guys like George Kirby, Logan Gilbert. The way that they can roll out their rotation in a best-of-five series would be really favorable, and behind those three, you're seeing guys like Bryce Miller and Brian Wu, rookies who have come in as injury replacements for veterans Marco Gonzalez and Robbie Ray, and they've just picked up the baton and really run with it. They're going to have some workload limitations down the stretch.

Wu pitched tonight six innings, but on an abbreviated outing, given that he was so efficient with his pitch count. But if you have to move some of those guys into the bullpen for shorter stint roles, that's something that they would be more than capable of doing and more than comfortable doing. You saw them do it with George Kirby last year. But yeah, to answer your question, one of the most formidable starting rotations in the league that I think makes them really built for October, if they were to get into the dance, and then you supplement it with a bullpen that's still finding its footing a little bit after the trade of Paul Siewald. They've got some leverage guys that have just really pure, raw stuff, Andres Munoz and Matt Brash, but are also experiencing a little bit of some hiccups in terms of taking on the ninth inning role. That said, they've each racked up a few saves here and some high leverage moments, and they've got another month to work with to kind of work out those kinks and keep getting used to those opportunities. It's one of the best pitching staffs in the majors, and a group that has kind of built their blueprint around as they've gone through the past three or four years of this rebuild has really been around their arms and strike throwing.

So if they were to get into the dance, they really like their odds based on the personnel that they have lined up. We know that they ended the playoff drought. There was so much made of the fact that they finally got into the postseason last fall, but it was as a wild card. How much does it matter to them that they're in position to win a division title? I think they're very cognizant of it. The one thing that stood out to me in talking to these guys over the past few days is they're just so determined to keep their focus ahead and keep the task at hand on their mind and not let up. I was talking to Julio Rodriguez yesterday and asked him about the significance of it. They haven't won a division title since he was still in diapers, literally a year old.

What stood out to me, what he said, was we're going to control what we can control. They understand that this is going to be a really close division race down to the wire. Houston and Texas are only back one game.

They only passed them this past weekend. They play those two teams each of their final ten games of the year. It's all going to come down to that final week and a half. They're cognizant of it. What he was telling me was staying in control of what you can and going out and continuing to win games because we don't want to be scoreboard watching.

We want to seize the moment rather than surveil. They're cognizant of it for sure. That kind of confidence has been really contagious within the clubhouse over the past month. Daniel Kramer is with us from Seattle after another Mariners win, this time a shutout of the Oakland A's.

That's 12 victories in their last 13 tries. It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio in early July. Seattle had a chance to host the All-Star festivities. What was that like, Daniel, with all the buzz in baseball and all the superstars there in Seattle?

Yeah, I think they did a really good job with it. I mean, at this time of year out here, it's absolutely beautiful. Sun-soaked skies, you've got the water.

It stays light out so late. It was my first All-Star game. I've been covering baseball for nine seasons and it was my first one and it happened to be in my backyard. So it was a really exciting time, but just seeing the way that the Mariners and the organization made it a truly Seattle event and really showed off the allure of the Pacific Northwest and this beautiful ballpark that they have here. It was special, for sure, and I think they were really proud of it and one of the midsummer classics to remember, for sure. And the team itself had started to put things together, had started to get above.500 and kind of leave that record in the rearview mirror. So the last two months, how much fun are they having as a group? I think they're having fun, for sure, but the way that they're talking about it is that they feel that they're playing to the capabilities that they've always thought they had, just with all the preparation that they put in.

Like I said, the pitching staff that had carried them in the first half. So you're starting to see just this growing conviction in what they're doing and believing in themselves to what got them to this point. And having the faith that if they keep following their processes and keep staying in tune with what got them here, even during those tough four months to start the year, that there will be a strong finish here over the final month, potentially beyond into October. Is that the expectation then? That they're starting a playoff streak?

I would think so. The talent that's here, it's someone's young talent. It starts with Julio Rodriguez. He's 22 years old.

He's locked up to the mega contract extension. He's going to be here for at least another decade plus. And then just like all those young pitchers that I was mentioning, Kirby, Gilbert, Miller, Wu. And then just the nucleus that they've kind of built around here of young, foundational, homegrown talent that they've operated on a draft developing trade model with this rebuild over the past few years. And you're starting to see the fruits of it, for sure. When they ended the drought, potentially contending to this division title.

But they also think that it's sustainable, something that they want to keep here and keep long term. So nice when a plan works out the way that it's intended, even if it does take a couple decades to end a playoff streak. All right, you can find Daniel on Twitter at dkramer, K-R-A-M-E-R, with an underscore after the fact. Covers the Mariners and baseball for MLB.com. Really good to connect with you. The best story in baseball right now, Daniel. Thank you so much for a few minutes. Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Or wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-29 06:57:45 / 2023-08-29 07:04:12 / 6

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