On a night in which there were many heroes for the Seattle Mariners, no one came up bigger than Michael Saunders.
Trailing in the ninth inning 5-3 to the Toronto Blue Jays, Saunders came up to bat with one out. Facing long-time veteran Francisco Cordero, Saunders smacked a home run to deep center, his second of the season.
This ignited the rally and helped the M's tie the game up and head into extras, where once again the 25-year-old Canada native found himself in a spot to come up big for the club—and he did. With the bases loaded and no outs, Saunders hit a high pop-up to right field that carried itself all the way over the fence for a grand slam. The four-run bomb put Seattle up 9-5, which was enough to seal their fourth straight victory.
These big hits are starting to become a familiar thing for Saunders, who has seen almost every start in center field this year due to the injury to Gold Glover Franklin Gutierrez. In the past few games, Saunders has come up to bat with his team down, and found a way to get the job done.
Along with being clutch, his overall approach at the plate has been great of late. In the past seven games, Saunders has raised his average from .189 to .254. Over that stretch he's hitting .364, with five of his eight hits going for extra bases, including his two home runs tonight. That brings his season totals to .254 AVG, three homers and 11 RBI.
His plate discipline is still a concern, as he's been rung up seven times in his past five games—but with his surge of production, manager Eric Wedge will have to deal with it.
Mariners fans are starting to get a glimpse of the type of hitter Michael Saunders has the potential to become. Over the past few of seasons we've heard countless times about how good he can be, but time and time again we would see him struggle at the plate, which would eventually lead to his demotion.
There's a different feeling about him now though, and if his bat can stay anywhere near this hot, then I think we should get used to seeing this guy in the everyday big-league lineup.
*Stats are from MLB.com.