After a week of almost no production out of the leadoff spot, the Mariners finally replaced Michael Saunders with Jason Bay atop the order for Wednesday's finale.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — After a week of almost no production out of the leadoff spot, the Mariners finally replaced Michael Saunders with Jason Bay atop the order for Wednesday’s finale.
Saunders wound up batting second, leaving he and fellow British Columbia native Bay as the first Canadians to bat 1-2 in a major-league lineup since at least 1921 — as far back as that data is reliable.
It’s only the second time in his career that Bay, 34, has hit leadoff, having done so last month with Saunders on the disabled list. Saunders had been just 4 for 32 (.125) with an on-base percentage (OBP) of .150 batting leadoff in the first eight games of the road trip.
“I think he’s expanded the (strike) zone a little bit from time to time,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Saunders. “You know what? When he stays in his zone, he does some damage. So, I think he’s just expanded his zone, is trying to do too much. So, again, we’re at our best when these guys are willing and able to set the bat down and take the walk and let the next guy get a shot at it.
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“So when you try to do too much, or get a little greedy out there, that’s when you get into trouble.”
The offense as a whole had actually put up solid numbers on the trip despite the lack of a leadoff presence. The Mariners were averaging 4.7 runs per game and had hit .260 with a .332 OBP in Cleveland and New York prior to being shut out in the opener here.
The decision to use Bay up top was made easier by the fact the Angels were starting a left-hander on the mound in C.J. Wilson. With few other options available up top, Saunders will very likely be leading off again Friday when right-hander Justin Grimm of the Texas Rangers takes the mound.
• Charlie Furbush tossed three perfect innings of relief on Wednesday, becoming the first Mariners reliever to do that since David Pauley on April 10, 2011. Furbush has now struck out Angels slugger Josh Hamilton four of the past five times he’s faced him.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners