Two Fridays ago, Felix Hernandez moved to 3-0 as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland A’s to retake first place in the A.L. West. Almost two weeks later, that seems like a lifetime ago. Since that win, Seattle has gone 2-10 including an eight game losing streak. The worst part was over a six game stretch against two of the lower teams in baseball, the Marlins and Astros, Seattle went 1-5. It took a Kyle Seager walk off home run yesterday for the Mariners to avoid being sent to last place in the A.L. West, a spot they would’ve had if the Astros swept in Seattle. I look at what’s gone wrong the last two weeks.
The Bullpen. The bullpen was mainly untested so far this season, as when the Mariners did win, they usually gave their pitching staff a comfortable cushion to work with (remember the long ago season opening sweep of the Angels where the Mariners put up twenty-six runs?) The bullpen lost a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning last Wednesday spoiling Felix’s duel against Yu Darvish and the Rangers. Texas scored one in the eighth and two in the ninth to win 3-2. Miami then anchored their sweep of Seattle by rallying twice against the Mariners’ bullpen. After Seattle rallied from down 4-2 on Friday, Yoervis Medina gave up a walk-off grand slam to Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Sunday, the Marlins again loaded the bases down 2-1 and scratched across two runs off of Tom Wilhelmsen for a 3-2 Marlins win.
The Rotation. With injuries after the season started to James Paxton and Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer became the Mariners’ seventh starting pitcher this season, and we have still yet to see Taijuan Walker or Hisashi Iwakuma. Over the slide, the patchwork rotation had some hiccups. Chris Young had a bad start against Miami over last weekend giving up four runs and last three innings. The veteran did rebound for seven strong innings against the Astros yesterday lowering his ERA to 3.50 on the season. Roenis Elias, who probably would’ve started the season at Tacoma if not for the injuries depleting Seattle’s staff, was outdueled by Henderson Alvarez in Miami giving up eight hits and six runs, four earned, in a 7-0 loss last Saturday. Even the staff’s ace, Felix Hernandez, had a clunker over the last two weeks getting lit up by the Astros Monday at home in 7-2 loss, although four of the six runs that he gave up was unearned.
The Offense. In my last article about the Mariners’ offense, I stressed going into the Marlins series I wanted to see the bats explode and put up at least five runs a game to give the pitching staff a cushion to work with. Well, the Mariners had six runs. The entire series. Before Kyle Seager’s five RBI day yesterday, Seattle had four runs in two games against the Astros. A lot of people are going to point the finger at Robinson Cano. Despite his power numbers being lower than what I would like (1 HR and 8 RBI), he is leading the Mariners in average, hits, and OBP. And, even his low RBI total of 8 is only four of the team lead (Justin Smoak with 12). Cano is getting on base, but no one can bring him home. Corey Hart, the other veteran bat Seattle brought in, has been hot lately getting hits in his last seven games to bring his season average up to .270. Hopefully, for Mariners’ fans, I hope hitting is contagious.