Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners notebook: Spacious Safeco Field? Stats say not any longer

Nelson Cruz has 15 homers this season at Safeco Field.
Nelson Cruz has 15 homers this season at Safeco Field. AP

Safeco Field’s reputation as a pitchers’ park is taking a beating.

Entering Tuesday, Safeco had yielded 199 homers through 68 games for an average of 2.93 per game. The Mariners had hit 99 and given up 100.

The 199 total and the 2.93 average are the highest totals in baseball.

Nelson Cruz leads all players this year with 15 homers at Safeco Field, followed by Robinson Cano with 14 and Adam Lind with 13.

This year’s totals are a sizable jump from last season, when there were 180 homers hit at Safeco for an average of 2.22 a game. The Mariners hit 90 and gave up 90 in their home park. Both totals ranked seventh among the 30 ballparks.

This year’s total at Safeco Field is already a record for a full season, but topping the 200-homer barrier occurred four times at the Kingdome: 244 in 1997, 237 in 1996, and 218 in 1987 and 1998.

The Mariners also saw 227 homers hit at the home park in 1999. That was the season when they moved July 15 from the Kingdome to Safeco Field. There were 134 homers hit in 39 games at the Kingdome, and 93 in 42 games at Safeco.

The rest of the current top five in each category (through Monday):

Total homers: Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati) 196, Camden Yards (Baltimore) 195, Coors Field (Colorado) 187 and Globe Life Park (Texas) 186.

Average per game: Yankee Stadium (New York) 2.85, Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati) 2.84, Camden Yards (Baltimore) 2.79 and Globe Life Park (Texas) 2.70.

AOKI RECALLED

The Mariners, as expected, recalled outfielder Nori Aoki from Triple-A Tacoma prior to Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.

Aoki, 34, returns after going 7-for-31 in eight games for the Rainiers following his Aug. 26 demotion. The Mariners made the move because they foresaw little playing time for Aoki against an anticipated run of games against left-handers.

Players optioned to the minors can’t be recalled for 10 days unless they replace a player placed on the disabled list.

Aoki is batting .265 overall this season with a .333 on-base percentage in 98 big-league games. That includes a .316/.362 mark in 29 games following a previous demotion to the minors.

WILHELMSEN PASSES ONE TEST

Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen reported no problems in his sore back after throwing a 25-pitch bullpen workout prior to Tuesday’s game and, barring setbacks, will pitch a simulated inning on Thursday as a final test.

Wilhelmsen experienced spasms in his lower back after a disastrous Aug. 21 appearance against Milwaukee. After resting for three days, he pitched Aug. 25 in Chicago and, the following day, reported renewed pain.

The Mariners placed Wilhelmsen on the disabled list on Aug. 27, retroactive to Aug. 26, which means he is eligible this weekend to active duty.

Wilhelmsen is 0-1 with a 3.20 ERA in 22 games since returning June 21 to the Mariners after opening the season at Texas.

BANG FOR THE BUCK

Franklin Gutierrez entered Tuesday with 29 homers in 397 at-bats over the last two seasons. Nobody has more homers than Gutierrez over the last two seasons in fewer than 400 at-bats.

Colorado shortstop Trevor Story ranked second with 27 homers in 372 at-bats. Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos ranked second among American League players with 18 in 363 at-bats.

MINOR DETAILS

Five of the Mariners’ seven affiliates completed their seasons Monday and will open postseason play Wednesday. The other two had already completed their seasons.

The seven clubs finished a combined 451-314 for a .590 winning percentage. A year, the Mariners had eight affiliates that finished a combined 392-444 for a .469 winning percentage:

***Triple-A Tacoma finished 81-62 and won the the Pacific Coast League Pacific North Division. The Rainiers open the best-of-five Pacific Conference finals at El Paso (Padres).

***Double-A Jackson finished 84-55 and won the Southern League North Division title in the first half and finished with the league’s best record. The Generals open the best-of-five North Division finals against Montgomery (Rays).

***Hi-A Bakersfield finished 76-64 and won the California League North Division title in the second half. The Blaze opens the best-of-three North Division semifinals at San Jose (Giants).

***Lo-A Clinton finished 86-54 and won the Midwest League Western Division title in the second half and finished with the league’s best record. The LumberKings open the best-of-three Western Division quarterfinals against Peoria (Cardinals).

***Short-A Everett finished 45-31 and won the Northwest League North Division title in the second half. The AquaSox open the best-of-three North Division finals against Spokane (Rangers).

***Rookie Peoria finished 31-25 and won the Arizona Rookie League West Division title in the first half. The Mariners completed their season by winning the Arizona League championship.

***Dominican Mariners finished 48-23 and won the Dominican Summer League South Division title. The Mariners finished their season by losing in the semifinal series.

MINOR AWARDS

Tacoma right-hander Joe Wieland was picked as the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week for Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 after winning his two starts and limiting opponents to two earned runs in 10 2/3 innings.

Wieland, 26, finished 14-6 with 5.43 ERA in 26 games for the Rainiers, including 24 starts. He made one big-league start and gave up six runs in five innings on Aug. 12 in a 6-3 loss at Oakland.

LOOKING BACK

It was 19 and 18 years ago Wednesday — Sept. 7, 1997 and Sept, 7, 1998 — that Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 50th homer of the season. He finished each season with 56, which marked a career high and remains a Mariners record.

No. 50 in 1997 came against Bob Tewksbury in a 9-6 loss at Minnesota. No. 50 in 1998 was his second of the game and came against Jimmy Key in an 11-1 victory over Baltimore at the Kingdome.

SHORT HOPS

Texas second baseman Rougned Odor was picked as the American League player of the week for Aug. 29 through Sept. 4. He went 12-for-27 with five homers and 15 RBIs, including six hits in 13 at-bats (with three homers and eight RBIs) over three games last week against the Mariners in Texas…the Mariners, with Monday’s 14-6 victory over the Rangers, became only the third club this season to score 14 or more runs on four occasions. The others are the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Boston Red Sox.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Rangers continue their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Left-hander Ariel Miranda (2-1 with a 5.76 ERA) will face Texas right-hander A.J. Griffin (7-3, 4.41).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on the Mariners Radio Network, which includes 710 ESPN.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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