SEATTLE — Time for a first-month report card on the Mariners’ much-stressed "control the zone" philosophy.
Let’s just say manager Scott Servais is pleased.
"I think it’s been outstanding," he said. "I think it’s like we planned it out. There have been days when it’s been better than others. In the last seven or eight games, it’s probably been more evident.
"Just the number of guys throughout the lineup who have seen the value of getting deep into counts. Taking a walk or winning the at-bat. It doesn’t always happen."
The Mariners chart CTZ success in numerous ways, but their combined strikeout/walk rate offers a quick snapshot.
It’s an easy computation: Walks by hitters and strikeouts by pitchers count as plus-one; strikeouts by hitters and walks by pitchers are minus-one.
In their first 22 games through Friday, the Mariners (12-10) graded out at plus-29, which matched Boston for the second-best rate among American League clubs. New York was a runaway leader at plus-66.
For some context, the league average through Friday was minus-one. A year ago, that Mariners finished at minus-66.
Servais pointed to Friday’s 1-0 victory over Kansas City as a telling example. The Mariners managed just one hit, a homer by Seth Smith, but drew seven walks while striking out just five times.
"We got on base," he said. "We didn’t get any hits — we got one — but we were on base and created some opportunities."
The Mariners also show improved CTZ skills from the mound. Their strikeout rate per nine innings is up, and their walk rate is down. Their overall plus-123 pitching ratio ranked fourth among AL clubs.
"Our pitching, across the league, we’re in a very good spot," Servais said. "I think we’re in the top four or five in almost every category. What we’ve done so far has been driven by our pitching."
Clubhouse humor being what it is, it was no surprise that center fielder Leonys Martin found his image outlined in tape on the center-field wall prior to Saturday’s game.
Martin ended Friday’s 1-0 victory over Kansas City by running down a deep fly by Salvy Perez with the tying run on second. Martin made the catch and then slammed face-first into the wall.
While Martin tumbled to the ground, he held the ball for the final out. Dazed momentarily, he got to his feet and raced toward the dugout in celebration.
As for the taped outline, Martin smiled broadly, muttered "wow," and shook his head.
Felix Hernandez continues to climb the Mariners’ all-time charts. His victory Friday enabled him to match Jamie Moyer for the most victories in franchise history at 145.
(Hernandez also holds the franchise record for losses with 103.)
Earlier this season, Hernandez passed Randy Johnson for the franchise record in career strikeouts. Hernandez has 2,170 after getting four over 7 2/3 innings in Friday’s 1-0 victory over Kansas City. Johnson had 2,162 from 1989-98.
Hernandez also recently moved into second place for games by a pitcher at 339. The franchise leader is reliever Jeff Nelson with 432. Moyer ranks second among starting pitchers with 324 (including 323 starts).
A WINNING APRIL
Friday’s victory boosted the Mariners to 12-10 and, with only one game remaining, ensured them of finishing April with a winning record for first time in seven years and only the second time since 2003.
The Mariners were 10-12 through April 2015. Their last winning record through April was a 13-9 record in 2009. Through Friday, they were a combined 147-169 through April over the last 13 years.
MORE APRIL NUMBERS
Hernandez and Taijuan Walker posted the second- and third-best ERAs through April in franchise history for pitchers who made at least two starts.
Hernandez lowered his ERA to 1.38 by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings Friday against Kansas City. Walker is scheduled to start Sunday — May 1 — after compiling a 1.44 ERA in his four April starts.
The only Mariners pitcher who made at least two starts and finished with a lower ERA through April was Floyd Bannister, who had a 1.21 ERA in four starts in 1980.
Hi-A Bakersfield lefty Anthony Misiewicz carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Friday night at Inland Empire (Padres) before the Blaze held on for a 4-3 victory.
Misiewicz, 21, gave up two singles in eight shutout innings before Ronald Dominguez allowed three quick runs in the ninth.
Ryan Horstman replaced Dominguez and closed out the victory for Misiewicz, who is 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in five starts.
The Mariners selected Misiewicz in the 18th round of last year’s draft. He began his pro career by going 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 14 games, including seven starts, at Short-A Everett.
It was one year ago Sunday — May 1, 2015 — that Nelson Cruz hit a 469-foot homer against Astros closer Luke Gregerson that struck the locomotive that sits atop the left-field wall at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Cruz’s blast came in the ninth inning and was his 11th of the year, but it came in a losing cause. Gregerson closed out a 4-3 victory for Houston.
Felix Hernandez has a 2.41 ERA for his 56 career starts in April. That ranks third on the all-time list for pitchers with at least 50 April starts. Bob Feller is first at 2.04, followed by Walter Johnson at 2.21…the Mariners, after Friday’s victory, are 4-17 in their history when they get one hit in a game…Seth Smith’s 100th career homer was the only run in Friday’s victory. It was the first of his career against Kansas City. There are still two teams that Smith hasn’t homered against: Toronto and the Chicago White Sox.
The Mariners and Royals complete their three-game weekend series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-0 with a 1.44 ERA) will start against Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy (2-2, 2.77).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The Mariners return to competition against American League West opponents when they open a seven-game trip Monday with the first of three games at Oakland. The trip concludes next weekend with four games at Houston.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
CONTROL THE ZONE
(American League clubs, through Friday)
New York: Plus-66
Seattle, Boston: Plus-29
Los Angeles: Plus-24
Kansas City, Tampa Bay: Plus-2
AL average: Minus-1
Cleveland, Minnesota: Minus-24
The Mariners’ records through April over the last 13 years:
Year: Record Games behind
2016: 12-10* one-half game
2015: 10-12 5 games
2014: 11-14 5 games
2013: 12-17 6 1/2 games
2012: 11-13 6 1/2 games
2011: 13-15 3 1/2 games
2010: 11-12 one-half game
2009: 13-9 UP 2 games
2008: 13-15 4 1/2 games
2007: 10-10 1 1/2 games
2006: 11-15 2 1/2 games
2005: 12-12 1 game
2004: 8-15 5 1/2 games
* — through Friday (one game remaining in April).
LOWEST MARINERS ERAs THROUGH APRIL
(Minimum two starts)
Floyd Bannister (1980) 1.21
Felix Hernandez (2016) 1.38
Taijuan Walker (2016) 1.44
Erik Hanson (1993) 1.53
Randy Johnson (1992) 1.53