A return home proved to be just what the Seattle Mariners needed as they captured their first series of the season, taking three of four games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Coming off a disappointing 1-5 road trip through Texas, Seattle relied upon their old stand-by, pitching, to put a positive spin to what had been a hard April. The Mariners, who’ve had a league-low one off day this whole month, will now face the Baltimore Orioles for three before starting a stretch where fourteen of the next seventeen games will be on the road. On the bright side, the Mariners will have four off days over that span.
Starting Pitching Leads the Way. The series got off to a positive start with the best professional outing from Brandon Maurer. In a 6-0 win on Thursday, Maurer went 6.1 IP allowing seven hits and zero ER while striking out six. The rookie notched in his second win of the season (2-3) and lowered his ERA to 5.61. After a loss on Friday, the Mariners turned it back over to their 1-2 combo that’s had an amazing April. Felix Hernandez went eight strong on Saturday and former Angel Kendrys Morales pinch-hit RBI single gave Seattle a 3-2 win. Hernandez allowed five hits and two ER, while striking out seven Angels. Although he got two losses in April (3-2), Hernandez leaves the month with a 1.90 ERA. With the Mariners looking for their first series win of the season, they turned the ball over to Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma held the Angels to one unearned run, and new additions Jason Bay and Michael Morse bashed late inning home runs off former Mariner Jason Vargas to spark Seattle to a 2-1 win. Iwakuma closed April at 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA. Over the four games, Seattle pitching held a line-up anchored with Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, and Josh Hamilton to nine runs.
The Problems at Five. The Mariners in Spring Training let go of Jon Garland, choosing to go with their young pitchers. That lasted two starts as Blake Beavan struggled out of the gates in the No. 5 hole. Seattle dealt for Aaron Harang to step in for Beavan moving him to long relief. The Mariners on the season are 1-4 when their No. 5 starters start with the starter not figuring in the one victory, an 8-7 ten inning win over the White Sox. In the other four losses, the opposition has scored: 8, 6, 11, and 6. With his loss on Friday, Harang slumped to 0-3 in 3 starts with a 11.37 ERA. He has only went five innings once, and he has allowed six HRs. He’s scheduled to go Wednesday, but it is obvious the Mariners will need to look how long they want to go with Harang at No. 5, if they want to go back to Beavan, give their other long reliever/spot starter Hector Noesi a chance, or bring up a prospect from Tacoma.
Baltimore Visiting Seattle for Three. The Mariners didn’t fare well against the Orioles last season, going 1-8. Seattle’s rotation also is going to line-up unfavorably as it will be 3, 4, 5 vs. last year’s Wild Card winner. Joe Saunders will have his first start since losing two on the road trip through Texas on Monday. Saunders is 1-0 in Safeco, having allowed zero ER – one run overall – in 13.1 innings. Brandon Maurer will look to even his record at 3-3 on Tuesday, and Harang will pitch on Wednesday. The Orioles come into Seattle at 15-10, after winning three out of four in Oakland. They are in the middle of an 11 game West Coast road trip, and they will head to Anaheim for four against the Angels after this series.