Top of the Lineup Life At Last
What a difference a couple of weeks can make.
With the continual strikeouts of Abraham Almonte now a seemingly distant memory, you have James Jones and Michael Saunders suddenly lighting up the box score at the top of the order.
To be completely candid, Saunders did go through a bit of a funk during the last two weeks. It wasn’t all peaches and cream. He hyper-extended his knee in the outfield, which caused him to have to sit a couple of games and be limited to pinch hitting in a few more.
Now that the knee isn’t bothering him anymore, he’s picked up right where he left off. Despite the mini injury-induced slump, Saunders is batting .313 in the month of May. In the Minnesota series, he had six hits in just 11 at bats for a .545 batting average.
At the end of April, Saunders was batting just .194. He has raised that average with his great month of hitting all the way up to .262.
Saunders is flashing a bit of power in May as well. He’s hit three doubles, a triple, a homer and has driven in 10 runs during the month.
If you had told me in April that Jones would break a team record set by Mariner legend Edgar Martinez within his first dozen ball games or so, I’d have told you that I have some nice ocean-front property to sell you in Kansas.
That is what has happened, though.
Jones dragged a bunt Tuesday night for a base hit. It was his 11th consecutive start since joining the show with a base hit. That broke the record of 10 set by Edgar way back in 1987.
Jones hasn’t stopped there, either. He’s batting .314 on the year, which is the second-best average on the team to Robinson Cano. Jones has also shown some pretty good plate discipline in his first three weeks by walking six times.
Defensively, you can really see why Jones gets the nod over Saunders in center. The guy is fast — spooky fast — and he never seems to make a step in the wrong direction with that first step.
On the bases we have only seen Jones steal a couple of bags so far, but I think it’s only a matter of time before McClendon turns this guy loose out there. He can really fly around those pillows.
Getting on base and moving runners is what the 1 and 2 spots in the lineup are all about. Jones and Saunders have been getting it done the past couple of weeks.