Mariners Insider Blog

Watchpoints: Gamel and Zunino must reset as calendar turns to July

Ben Gamel had 42 hits in June and leads the American League in batting.
Ben Gamel had 42 hits in June and leads the American League in batting. AP

It’s no surprise that Mariners left fielder Ben Gamel jokes about scratching the name of the month off every calendar and replacing it with "June."

Catcher Mike Zunino ought the feel the same way. Gamel and Zunino each put together career-changing months in June.

Neither might ever have a month to match what they just achieved, but each put down a marker for what they’re capable of doing.

Gamel had 42 hits and established himself as a viable major-league player after spending much of the two-plus previous years in Triple-A. Zunino had 31 RBIs while emerging, finally, as the power bat the Mariners long envisioned.

Both played key roles Friday when the Mariners closed June by snapping a four-game skid with a 10-0 blowout victory over the Angels. Gamel had four hits and raised his average to .346. Zunino hit a homer that opened the scoring.

Question: Who had the better month?

Zunino pointed to Gamel: "Did he make an out? It didn’t seem like it. Him. Easily."

Gamel countered by citing Zunino: "Probably 31 RBIs (are more impressive than 42 hits). An RBI a day for a month? There’s only 30 days in this month, and he had 31 RBIs. Pretty impressive."

Third baseman Kyle Seager hedged: "That’s a tough one. That’s what we were talking about earlier. We’ve got two guys who should be winning this June player-of-the-month thing. You pick your poison on that one.

"You like me not answering that?"

Second baseman Robinson Cano pointed to Zunino.

"I don’t want to say anyone can get 42 hits," he said. "But I think it’s harder to get 31 RBIs. For you to get 31 RBIs, you need someone else to get on base.

"You look at some guys for the whole year. They have 60 RBIs. He has 31 in a month. That’s something that’s incredible. Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone can get 42 hits, but it seems harder to get 31 RBIs."

Let’s leave it at that.

Other watchpoints:

***The start of Saturday’s game will be delayed by 11 minutes to 7:18 p.m. because the Angels are holding a pre-game ceremony to recognize Albert Pujols recently becoming the ninth player to hit 600 home runs in a career.

***Saturday’s matchup is rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio (3-2 with a 3.38 ERA) against Angels veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco (3-9, 4.86). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.

***Gaviglio has never faced the Angels. Nolasco is 1-4 with a 4.76 ERA in seven career starts against the Mariners. He has no-decisions in two starts this season while giving up six runs and 12 hits in 10 1/3 innings.

***Nelson Cruz is 7-for-21 with three homers in his career against Nolasco. Cano is 7-for-17 with three homers.

***Cruz turns 37 on Saturday, and he’d like to celebrate with a home run. He hasn’t hit one since June 4. Infielder Tyler Smith, currently at Triple-A Tacoma, turns 26 on Saturday.

***Gamel leads the American League in batting even though he is four plate appearances shy of qualifying. His .348 average would drop to .342 if an 0-for-4 were added to his totals, which remains better than Houston’s Jose Altuve, the qualified leader, at .330.

***Shortstop Jean Segura is batting .333 but is 18 plate appearances shy of qualifying. Adding an 0-for-18 would drop his average to .308, which would rank 10th.

***Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar was 0-for-2 with a walk in Friday’s game but is batting .360 (32-for-89) against the Mariners since the start of the 2016 season.

***The Angels plan to add former Mariners infielder Nick Franklin to their roster prior to Saturday’s game after making a corresponding space-clearing move. They acquired Franklin on Friday from Milwaukee for future considerations.

***The Mariners’ staff recorded its seventh shutout in Friday’s victory. Only Cleveland, with eight, has more. Minnesota and the Los Angeles Dodgers also have seven.

TIME CAPSULE

It was 10 years ago Saturday — July 1, 2007 — that Mike Hargrove resigned as the Mariners’ manager after a 2-1 walk-off victory over Toronto. The Mariners were 45-33 and led the American League West by four games.

John McLaren replaced Hargrove, and led the club to a 43-41 record over the remainder of the season. The Mariners finished in second place, six games behind the Angels.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

  Comments