Got home late from a meeting at school last night and turned on the Mariners game. It was nearly 7:30 and I figured young pitcher Brandon Maurer would be cruising after stepping in the puddle of jitters he encountered in Oakland last week. Wrong. Still the top of the first, M’s down 6-0 and Maurer being examined by Rick Griffin after taking a line drive off his thigh. To the Houston Astros. The same Astros that were shut out three times during the previous week. I spent a great deal of the next two hours watching the first four innings of this game only to see the M’s down 16-0 before I packed it in for the night.
It’s been eight glorious games since Felix’s opening night gem. There are achievements to celebrate and causes for concern, but tonight will be game ten. It’s always difficult to assess where a team is going to end up until after game forty or so. But last night is just such a black eye. I know, it’s one game and you just have to forget it and get ready for tonight’s game. Last night’s attendance was the lowest in Safeco history, and further performances like it will simply lead to more crappy attendance.
I hate to say it, but tonight is almost a must win game for the Mariners. They’re 4-5, and play the deciding game against the Astros. After that it’s Texas for four, and that won’t be fun. They’re followed by Detroit for three, hardly a party. Blake Beavan needs to figure out how a team that’s averaged over ten strikeouts a game and up until last night averaged only 2.1 runs per game lights up a pitching staff for 16 runs.
The nine runs the M’s scored last night are unimportant. For four innings Eric Bedard looked like Sandy Koufax and the M’s managed little offense. Thus far, offensive prowess is very unevenly distributed on this team. Take away Morse’s home runs and he looks like a hacker with his 11 strikeouts against one walk. . Only Kendrys Morales, Michael Saunders and Brendan Ryan are consistently producing. It’s early, but Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley need to find a way to click the “on” button. The fans are watching and they’re seeing the same things I’m seeing.
Just as disappointing, however, is the performance of Kameron Loe. Loe gave up the walk-off homer in Chicago on Sunday, and surrendered three more dingers in his 2.1 innings. That’s six on the season over 6.1 innings. Do the math, that’s not a situation that can continue. Though every pitcher that walked out on the mound last night seemed to have a target on his back, it is Loe’s early season performance that seems most problematic.
It’s a long season and patience is required, but the M’s can’t afford many more performances like Wiley Coyote’s plunge from a mesa. Followed by an Acme anvil. Trailed by an Acme safe. And blown up by a misguided Acme homing missile.