The Seattle Mariners followed up a strong road trip Monday by defeating the Boston Red Sox soundly 11-4. Then, Boston returned the favor putting up 11 runs on back-to-back nights in winning Tuesday and Wednesday. Still, Seattle had a chance to earn the four game series split against the A.L. East leading Red Sox, but let 5-1 and 7-4 leads get away before eventually falling 8-7 in the tenth inning. With just a three game series with the Angels left before the All-Star Break, Seattle fell to 40-52, five games behind the surging Angels for third place in the A.L. West.
Mike Carp. Mariners’ fans saw a familiar face at 1B for Boston in this series, former Mariner Mike Carp. Carp came over in what may be GM Jack Zduriencik’s best trade in which he traded J.J Putz in a multi-team deal and landed Jason Vargas, Franklin Gutierrez, and Carp. Seattle, which seems to be constantly looking to upgrade their offense, was hoping to get a solid bat in Carp. Carp played parts of four seasons, but he struggled in his last year here (2012) batting .213 with 5 HR and 20 RBI. And, like most batters who change locations, Carp is now putting up much improved numbers: .305 with 8 HR and 27 RBI in 51 games for the Red Sox this season. This brings up an interesting point: does it take a special kind of batter to be successful in Safeco Field? And, if it does, have our scouts made the transition to get the kind of bats that will boost the offense to take this team to the next level?
Offensive Improvement. Although Seattle lost three of four, their run totals in the series were impressive: 11-8-4-8. Brad Miller had his best series as a Mariner. The young IF who has been getting the nod over the struggling Brendan Ryan went 8-for-19 with three doubles and six RBI. His average raised from .200 to .286. Justin Smoak, who has had his struggles at the plate, also might be turning a corner. He had a hit in every game of the series, and he went 6-for-16 for the series with three doubles and three RBI. Smoak is now batting .266 on the season, and he is batting .382 for the month of July. The .266 is his highest mark on the season since Opening Day where he went 1-for-3. Speaking of young Mariner IFs swinging a hot bat, Kyle Seager also got a hit in every game of this series, and he owns an eleven game hitting streak. Seager so far in July is batting a scorching .462.
Pitching Woes. When your pitching staff gives up eleven runs on back-to-back nights, it’s not a good series. Hisashi Iwakuma lasted only three innings against the mighty Red Sox bats in the loss on Tuesday, and he is 0-3 in his last five decisions. Aaron Harang gave a longer outing on Wednesday, but he was tagged for seven ER in 5.0 IP. Erasmo Ramirez was recalled from Tacoma to take the place of Jeremy Bonderman, and, like Bonderman, he struggled mightily in his first start. In his 2013 debut, Ramirez lasted 4.2 IP and gave up 6 hits and 7 ER. Tom Wilhelmsen was returned to the closer’s role, which is the correct decision in my opinion, but he had a bad series against the Red Sox. He gave up runs in both of his appearances, and he got the loss last night in extra innings falling to 0-3 while his ERA rose to 4.05. Besides Felix’s win on Monday, the best pitching performance of the series went to Charlie Furbush. Carrying a gassed bullpen, Furbush went 2.1 IP yesterday, his highest total in an outing since May 22nd, and held the Red Sox scoreless while striking out four giving Seattle a chance to carry the game into extras. In a nutshell, Seattle pitching ran into a hot-hitting team, and it’s good to just put this series in the rear-view mirror and focus on the Angels.