Russell Branyan has been slumping the last week, seeing his batting average dip first below .300, then under .290 during a stretch in which he began Friday’s game in an 0-for-12 skid.
“On that trip through Los Angeles, New York and Boston, I hit some home runs, felt pretty good,” Branyan said. “But I’m in a little slump, no question.”
Is he tired? He’d have every reason to be, having played 76 games already this season – after playing only 50 in the big leagues and 45 more in the minors all of 2008.
“It’s funny, at first base this week, a lot of guys have been saying how much they’re looking forward to the All-Star break and a few days off,” Branyan said. “I guess I’m a little tired.”
Branyan is batting .284 with 21 home runs and 46 RBI. A career .230 hitter, Branyan has hit more home runs in a year just once, in 2002, when he split time between the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds and hit 24.
Asked about his first-half numbers, Branyan laughed.
“If you’d told me in spring training I’d hit .284 with 21 home runs – for the season, not the first half – I’d have been pretty happy,” he said. “I’ve gotten the chance to play and I’ve tried to make the most of it.”
He’s currently a bit tender, too, having taken two fastballs to the right arm – one hitting him the right wrist – on the last trip.
“The wrist, especially, still hurts,” Branyan said. “I’ll be fine. I gave away a couple of at-bats the other night, and that bothered me. I’m working just as hard now as ever. I hope fans don’t give up on me.”
Branyan has hit 11 of his 21 home runs at Safeco Field, and is on pace to challenge Richie Sexson’s team record of 21 homers in the ballpark in one season.
When Franklin Gutierrez homered Thursday, it snapped a Mariners streak of 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position during that game. More disturbing, it snapped an 0-for-20 team stretch with runners in scoring position (RISP) – which began on July 7, after Gutierrez hit a three-run home run against Baltimore. ...
That Gutierrez home run in the Mariners’ last at-bat Thursday was the 14th time Seattle has won in its final at-bat this season. The team has lost nine times in the final at-bat of the game.
Seattle continues its series with Texas with a 7:10 p.m. game that will be televised on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Kevin Millwood (8-6, 3.34) vs. Jarrod Washburn (5-6, 3.08).