It’s hard to believe the second-year Seattle Mariners were 31-21 after the first two months of the SP78 campaign, and had reeled off a 16-game winning streak in May, the longest yet by any team this season. Now, after an injury had knocked the team’s offensive leader, outfielder Tom Paciorek, out of action for thirty days, the M’s have fallen on hard times, dropping to 48-59 by the end of July and drifting back and forth between fourth and sixth place in the AL West. And though Paciorek has returned to the active roster, the Mariner magic seems to have dissipated, leaving the Emerald City squad gasping for life in a tough division already stocked with superior teams.
Keeping in mind that, due to his injury, Paciorek has played in only 67 of Seattle’s 107 games, he leads the team with a .327 average (he and Julio Cruz, at .316, are the only M’s currently hitting over .300); he also led the squad in average for July, with an impressive .355 mark. At this point in the season, Leon Roberts would take team MVP honors, with a .299 average, 21 doubles, 22 home runs, and 69 RBI. And of course, Cruz is still grabbing headlines with his pursuit of both the AL and major league stolen base record; by the end of July, he was just 22 away from Ty Cobb’s AL record of 96. But Seattle’s pitching has been nothing but trouble, and with no pitchers—starters or relievers—with a PB higher than 2-6, it doesn’t look to get any better over the next two months.
To check out the Mariners team page for results and statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.
Posted in Inside SP78
Tagged 1978, AL West, American League, Julio Cruz, July, Leon Roberts, Seattle Mariners, Statis Pro 1978 Replay, Statis Pro Baseball, stats, streak, Tom Paciorek
With more than six weeks left in the 1978 campaign, Seattle second baseman Julio Cruz, having a career year in only his second season in the majors, is just ten stolen bases away from tying the American League single-season mark of 96, set by Tigers legend Ty Cobb in 1915. And with 42 games remaining on the Mariners schedule, it appears that the major league record of 118, established by Cardinals veteran Lou Brock in 1974, may be in jeopardy as well.
“As long as I stay healthy, and can get on base, I think I can do it,” said Cruz before tonight’s doubleheader against the Angels at the Kingdome. If he were to steal a base per game, and barring injury or a sudden slump that would keep him off the basepaths, Cruz would break Cobb’s record on August 25th at Baltimore, and Brock’s milestone at home on September 19th against the Royals.
“Of course I’m playing him every game!” said a surprised Darrell Johnson, manager of the M’s, when asked if he was sticking with Cruz at second for the remainder of the season. “Why wouldn’t I? We’re fifteen games outta first, the guy’s hitting over .300, and he’s about to put this team on the map. You want me to play Bernhardt or Milbourne instead?”
With 86 stolen bases thus far in ’78, Cruz needs just three more to pass Washington outfielder Clyde Milan’s 1912 total to claim the second spot for single-season steals by an AL player in the modern era. Cruz considers that feat alone to be just another shining moment in a season already chock-full of them for the magic Mariners, who are currently tied for fourth place in the AL West. “For a second-year team,” he said, “we’re not doing too bad, are we?”