By Gary Hill
The Seattle Mariners steam into the All-Star break with a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The scorching M's offense steamrolled their division rival and stamped an exclamation point on an excellent July stretch.
Ranks in MLB for the month of July:
On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage -- .853, first
Slugging Percentage -- .499, first
On-Base Percentage -- .355, third
Batting Average -- .289, second
Home Runs -- 22, first
Runs -- 76, second
The blazing offense helped propel the M's to an 8-5 July record despite the fierce competition they faced during the month. The Mariners took two of three from the Cincinnati Reds (53 wins) and the Texas Rangers (54 wins) on the road to start the month. They dropped three of four in a slugfest against the Boston Red Sox, who stroll into the break with the best record in baseball. They finished the month by throwing cold water on the previously red-hot Angels.
The home run has been a primary weapon for this surging squad. The M's are now tied for second in all of baseball by swatting 115 homers. The Baltimore Orioles lead MLB with 132 long balls, with the Mariners and Blue Jays tied in the next slot. The feat is even more impressive when one considers that the Mariners hit a total of 109 homers in 2011 and 101 in 2010. They surpassed both of those totals by the All-Star break this season.
The Mariners have also slugged homers in 22 straight games which sets a club record. They are tracking the Texas Rangers for the longest streak in baseball history.
Consecutive Games with a home run:
2002 Texas Rangers -- 27
1998 Atlanta Braves -- 25
1994 Detroit Tigers -- 25
1941 New York Yankees -- 25
1953 Brooklyn Dodgers -- 24
2006 Atlanta Braves -- 23
2000 Toronto Blue Jays -- 23
1996 Oakland A's -- 23
2013 Seattle Mariners -- 22
2000-01 Arizona Diamondbacks -- 22
1956 Milwaukee Braves -- 22
Players have peppered positive contributions throughout the lineup for the Mariners.
Top performers for Mariners heading into the break:Justin Smoak -- Since April 22nd he is hitting .306 with a .920 OPS. His slash line in July is .386/.460/.659
Raul Ibanez -- He has already blasted more homers this season (24) than he has in all but one season in a Seattle uniform. His 16 home runs are already ninth most in a season at Safeco Field. Richie Sexson holds the Safeco record with 21.
Brad Miller -- He is hitting .268 with three doubles, six RBI and five walks as the leadoff man. The M's are 6-4 with him at the top spot.
Kendrys Morales -- In June he hit .235/.265/.306 with one HR and nine RBI in 24 games. In July he is .300/.352/.640 with five HR and 12 RBI in 12 games
Mike Zunino -- He went 7-22 (.318) with three RBI during the homestand.
Michael Saunders - The last 28 days he is hitting .288 with two HR, 10 RBI and five BB.
Kyle Seager -- He is hitting .458 with four homers and eight RBI in July. His OPS is 1.292 for the month.
Nick Franklin -- He maintains the second best OPS (.788) for all AL rookies.
The Mariners will look to keep the roll going in Houston after the All-Star break.