Game 18, Tigers At Mariners
Fister vs Coke, 7:10 pm.
We’ve said from day one that this season wouldn’t be about wins and losses, but about how the players that are actually important to the future develop. Chris Ray blowing a game in the 8th inning is, in the grand scheme of things, not all that relevant to this organization’s future. He won’t be here much longer anyway.
However, one guy who will be here for a while is Justin Smoak. After hitting another home run (to left field, at Safeco, in April) last night, he’s now up to .291/.403/.491 on the season. Most importantly, he’s cut the strikeouts down significantly from where they were last year, and has demonstrated the kind of approach at the plate that made him a top prospect to begin with. While we can nitpick about the fact that he only has two home runs, seven of his 16 hits have gone for extra bases, and he’s hit a bunch of balls on the screws.
It’s still early, but Smoak is looking like the player the M’s hoped they were getting last summer – a switch-hitter with power and patience who can hold his own in the middle of the batting order. The M’s might have lost last night, but with every good at-bat from Justin Smoak, they’re winning the long term war.