Were it not for the Seattle Mariners, the Royals would have entered the All-Star break in possession of the second wild card spot.
Wait, the Mariners? They haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, lost 91 games a year ago and, despite signing second baseman Robinson Cano to a huge contract in the offseason, were not expected to be much of a factor this year.
Yet in spite of starting the season with a 7-13 record, they went 51-44 in the first half. They lead the Royals and Blue Jays by 2 1/2 games for the second AL wild card.
“I think this organization has come quite far,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “I think we’ve accomplished a lot, but in the end we haven’t accomplished anything. But I certainly think we’re headed in the right direction. I think it’s nice for our fans. I certainly think this organization is headed in the right direction.”
Will that direction lead to the postseason? Seattle’s lament in the first half was one familiar to Royals fans: scoring. They were 12th in the American League in runs per game (3.98), behind even the Royals (4.07).
“I really do think we have enough in that locker room to win,” said third baseman Kyle Seager. “We won in the first half. We got enough in there to continue to compete and win. ...
“With our pitching, the way we match up with anybody with those arms, we are going to be in every game. It’s up to us to score some runs.”
Wouldn’t you know it? The Mariners lost the first game after the break, 3-2 in 16 innings to the Angels.
You need to know
Evan Gattis could return to the Braves’ lineup as soon as Monday against the Marlins. He’s been on the disabled list since June 28 with a bulging thoracic disc.
Elias noted that the Yankees’ Derek Jeter started his 2,610th career game at shortstop on Friday night, a major-league record. After Jeter, the players with the most starts at shortstop are Omar Vizquel (2,609) and Luis Aparicio (2,539).
The Braves defeated the Phillies and have now won their first game after the All-Star break in nine consecutive seasons (2006-2014), tying a major-league record, according to Elias. The Expos won nine straight post-break openers from 1984 to 1992, as did the Yankees from 1940 to 1949, and 2002 to 2010.
Words of wisdom
“We’re due to hit on a couple of these draft picks to become stars, aren’t we? Just in the law of averages, you’d think we’re due to find our (Mike) Trout, wouldn’t you?”
| Mark Loretta, a special assistant in the Padres’ baseball-operations department
| Compiled with help of baseball reporters around the country