After a successful road trip, the Seattle Mariners returned home and looked to be poised to make a run at .500. After all, they had just taken two of three series from playoff teams on the road, and they were a blown save away from taking all three series. However, in August, Safeco Field has been unkind to the hometown Mariners. Seattle was swept by both the Angels and Rangers, and they are sitting on a six-game losing streak. In August, the Mariners have lost all four of their home series (Rangers, Angels, Blue Jays, and Brewers), and they are 2-10 in those four series. Their current losing streak is two under their season-high of eight set at the end of May. The Mariners have slumped into fourth place in the A.L. West, and they are 14 games under (59-73).
So what went wrong in this six game home stand? The offense looked like last year’s version, and they failed to score runs. In the three game sweep to the Angels, Seattle scored two runs. The entire series. The Texas series was a little better, scoring ten runs, but the Mariners suffered two blow out losses to a team they had taken a series from in Arlington the previous week. Aaron Harang’s roller coaster season in Seattle ended on a low note, giving up 7 ER in 5.2 IP in a 7-1 loss to the Angels. Harang ended up giving up 7 ER in three of his five August starts. The Mariners designated Harang (5-11, 5.76 ERA) for assignment to make way for Taijuan Walker. Bad starting pitching, though, was contagious throughout the home stand. Staff ace Felix Hernandez lost both starts on the home stand, and he was rocked yesterday for 8 ER and 11 hits in 3 IP in a 12-4 loss to Texas. Joe Saunders also struggled against the red-hot Rangers, giving up 7 ER and 9 hits in 7 IP in an 8-3 loss in the series opener on Monday.
There are some bright spots, though, in the middle of this skid. Dustin Ackley, who was demoted to Tacoma earlier in the season, has found his stroke at the plate. Ackley is hitting .356 since the All-Star Break, raising his average to .253 on the season. He had four multi-hit game on the home stand, and he bashed two home runs while knocking in three. Kyle Seager also homered last night in the loss to cap off a successful series at the plate against the Rangers. Seager got a hit in every game, and he had two home runs in the three-game set. Franklin Gutierrez also contributed in his second game coming off the DL for Seattle hitting a home run in a 4-3 loss on Tuesday.
As the Mariners head to Houston for four against the last-place Astros, the beginning of the series will be watched keenly by Mariners fans. Erasmo Ramirez will go in the series opener. After a horrible first start of the season against Boston, Ramirez has made a strong pitch for a rotation spot next season. He won four of his next six decisions, before he suffered his first loss on the season to the Angels on Saturday. Ramirez pitched well (6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R – 2 ER), but lacked run support in the 5-1 loss. On Friday, top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker will make his debut. Unlike Ramirez, Walker won’t be making his debut against a murderous line-up like the Red Sox when he faces the Astros. Walker went 5-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 11 starts at Tacoma, striking out over a batter an inning (64 SO in 57.1 IP).