Whither now Mariners?


Mariners lose again 2
Ariel Miranda watched Jose Abreu circle the bases after tying the score 1-1 in Friday night’s loss to the White Sox. The Mariners notched one hit against Jose Quintana and the Pale Hose. 

The M’s head out on a tortuous road trip, with a series is Washington, Boston, and Colorado.  The Nationals and Rockies are division leaders, and although the Red Sox haven’t quite caught fire yet, they could do so any time.  Maybe preying on some woeful Mariners pitching will get them started.

The M’s find themselves 20-25 after a terrible homestand.  They began by winning two of three against the last place A’s, but could do nothing with a White Sox team that came into Safeco Field struggling. After managing a run on one hit Friday night, the Mariners offense went meekly, losing 16-1 on Saturday, and 8-1 on getaway Sunday.

Saturday’s immolation came at the hands of fellow arsonists Yovani Gallardo and Dillon Overton.  Together they surrendered nine and five runs respectively over 3.2 and 4.1 innings. Utilityman Mike Freeman pitched the last  inning and allowed the final run. I wonder if he can start.

Sunday’s conflagration began at the hands of Chris Heston, who allowed seven runs over three innings. While Dan Altavilla chipped in the eighth run just for good measure, the remaining four innings were well-managed by James Pazos, Steve Cishek, Mark Rzepczynski and Casey Lawrence.

Yes, the pitching sucks.  At 226 runs allowed, the Mariners have provided more opposing offense than any team in the American League.  More than any team in baseball except the San Diego Padres.

Unfortunately Seattle’s offense has likewise spun down the drain while facing the White Sox.  Over the last three games, the M’s were outscored 26-3.  But you already knew that. Taking it a step further, the M’s totaled only 40 hits in the seven game homestand.  That’s less than six hits per game.  It’s pretty tough to score much without hits.

It could be they’ve just struggled without Robinson Cano in the lineup. Perhaps they’ve been in such early holes, players have tried to do too much.

But the bottom third of the Mariners order with an inconsistent Jarrod Dyson, a catcher tandem of Tuffy Gosewich and Carlos Ruiz, and a Taylor Motter who is showing why he’s a great utility guy, but not quite ready for the daily big time, makes it hard on the other six guys.  Kyle Seager is not all the way back. Danny Valencia is still finding his way.  Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel are learning.  Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura can’t carry the team, though they’ve certainly tried.

And hovering over all this mess, is a barrelful of injuries.  We hear reports of who is improving and when we might see them.  Who is having setbacks and who is not.  But, it’s not clear who will be ready when.  Paxton and Haniger back maybe when the team returns from the road trip.  Felix . . . maybe, whenever?  Iwakuma sometime in June.  Smyly, end of June.  Cano will be added to the roster Tuesday.  Zunino has already replaced Tuffy. That’s not likely to be enough.

What’s clear, is the Mariners season is teetering on the brink. They are hopelessly behind the Astros unless that team and its stadium is destroyed in a meteor strike. The M’s are 5.5 games behind the second Wild Card spot.  That number isn’t hopeless, and the league has done a gentlemanly job of staying close to our boys. But there are seven teams in front of the Mariners, and one, the Texas Rangers, has gotten blazing hot. It could be that the M’s catch fire when they get their walking wounded back. Or not.

What is certain however, is this road trip is next on Seattle’s list of crosses to bear. Eight games against quality teams that play well at home.  In the five games in National League parks, they’ll be without their best hitter.

With 117 games left to play it’s hard to say this is the pivotal road trip of the year.  But if the M’s can’t pitch; if their offense hides in the clubhouse and they can’t find a way to win at least three games, it’s hard to see how they get in and stay in the Wild Card chase.  It’s also not hard to imagine M’s management taking this team apart if this spiral continues.

Go M’s.



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