Mariners fans looking for a winner to follow can cast their eyes to the north, where the Everett Aqua Sox are the best team in the Northwest League.
The Mariners’ short-season Class A affiliate clinched the first-half division title with a 2-1 win at Yakima on Friday night, improving the team’s record to a remarkable 26-9.
Catcher Mike Zunino has been a big hit since playing his first game on Sunday. The Mariners’ first-round draft pick out of the University of Florida, Zunino has 13 hits in his first 29 professional at-bats, for a .448 batting average. Zunino has already hit three home runs, including two in one game on Tuesday at Salem-Keizer.
Zunino and Marcus Littlewood have been sharing the catching duties, with Zunino serving as the designated hitter when Littlewood is behind the plate.
On the mound, the Aqua Sox are led by 19-year-old South African Dylan Unsworth. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 3.32 ERA after seven starts, boasting a 35-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 innings.
The Mariners signed Unsworth in 2010 when he was 17 years old, after spotting him pitching for the South African national junior team in international tournaments.
Tacoma’s 18-inning game on Wednesday came up one inning short of the franchise record, but it broke another mark.
The game clocked in at 5 hours, 32 minutes – the longest game in Tacoma’s 53 seasons in the Pacific Coast League.
The previous record was a 5:22 affair between the Tacoma Tigers and the Las Vegas Stars on April 28, 1989. The Tigers won that game in the bottom of the 19th inning, 4-3. That game remains the longest in team history in terms of innings played.
On Wednesday, Tacoma infielder Scott Savastano pitched a scoreless top of the 18th, and then earned the win when he hit a walk-off home run with one out in the bottom of the inning.
Savastano became the first Tacoma position player to earn a pitching victory since shortstop Thad Reece for the Tacoma Tigers in 1987.
The fact that Savastano was on the mound at all was a rarity in the Daren Brown era. In the six years Brown has managed Tacoma, only one other time has he used a position player on the mound: April 9, 2007, when utility infielder Brant Ust was needed to pitch in a 16-1 blowout loss at Fresno.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Rainiers.