The Seattle Mariners got off to a sizzling start, owning first place in the A.L. West after a win over Oakland last Friday. But, what a difference a week makes. Seattle fell to under .500 for the first time this season after dropping three out of four games to the Texas Rangers. With all the questions about starting pitching and the murderous early season schedule, this is about where I thought Seattle would be at the fifteen game mark, if not a little worst. However, once again, Seattle is being dominated by the old friend: no offense.
In the four major team categories (Runs, Batting Average, On Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage), the Mariners rank no higher than 20th in Major League Baseball in any of these categories. The loss on Wednesday was déjà vu for myself and many Mariners fans. Felix Hernandez pitched a tremendous game, but Seattle didn’t put up enough runs and a 2-0 eighth inning lead became a 3-2 loss. In fact, yesterday’s loss was the first time all season Seattle scored more than three runs in a loss (they lost 8-6). They’ve been shut out three times in fifteen games, and they scored only one run in another loss. Simple math: not being able to score enough runs puts more pressure on the pitching staff to be perfect to achieve victories.
The Mariners have a team batting average of .230, 26th in Major League Baseball. Only three starters are batting above .250: Dustin Ackley, Mike Zunino, and Robinson Cano. While Ackley and Zunino’s production is a definite high spot, the other Mariners young bats haven’t produced. Cano took a lot of heat in Spring Training for saying Seattle need another veteran right-handed bat. The Mariners’ front office wanted to see how their young batters would perform under a new manager. Kyle Seager, who was tremendous in 2012 and 2013, has struggled this season batting .143 with 0 HR and 2 RBI. Justin Smoak just completed a successful series against Texas (5-for-16) to raise his average from .220 to .246, but he has 2 RBI since the opening series of the season against the Angels. Brad Miller, who won the SS starting nod in Spring Training, is batting .219, and Michael Saunders is batting .200.
So, what’s the answer? Like I said, the Mariners have went up against three quality staffs in the A’s, Angels, and Rangers, and they have played ten of their first fifteen games on the road. Going into Miami, this is the easiest opponent Seattle has played this season. After a 5-1 start, the rebuilding Marlins stand at 6-10. Plus, Seattle will miss Miami’s ace Jose Fernandez. The bats have to break out this series. Progress needs to be shown; I’d like to see Seattle score at least five runs in every game of this series. They’ve shown their potential putting up twenty-six runs in sweeping the Angels in Anaheim to start the season. We need to see more of that in this trip to Miami.