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June 22, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Gutierrez shines, but Mariners starters continue to struggle

(Everth Cabrera of the Padres high-fives manager Bud Black after scoring in San Diego’s five-run fourth on Friday. Photo by Associated Press)
The Mariners continued to to display power away from Safeco Field, even in a hitters graveyard like Petco Park. They had two more homers to give them 50 on the road for the season. That’s the most in the majors, one ahead of the Blue Jays. The fact they’ve played five more road games than the Jays mitigates that statistic a bit, but considering the Mariners hit just 52 road homers last year (in 78 games), it’s pretty remarkable.
But their starting pitching has let them down on this trip. Starting with Hector Noesi (six innings, nine hits, six runs, five earned), and followed by Erasmo Ramirez (four innings, seven hits, five runs, four earned), Jason Vargas (4.1 innings, nine hits, 10 runs, 10 earned) and now Kevin Millwood (five innings, eight hits, eight runs, five earned), Mariners starters haven’t done enough to support the offense. Seattle is hitting .315 (47-for-149) on the trip with seven doubles, seven homers and 28 runs in four games. But they’ve won just one of them.

“Our starting pitching has been struggling a little bit on the road,” Wedge said. “It makes it tough. You end having to get to your bullpen earlier. We were hoping Kevin could get through it. It’s tough to go get somebody in the fourth inning.”
Millwood said, “The ball was up. The breaking balls weren’t good. I just didn’t pitch good, bottom line.”
The Mariners had nine hits, and seven of them were from the first two hitters in the lineup — three from Ichiro and four from Franklin Gutierrez, including a homer. Miguel Olivo also had a homer.
Gutierrez raised his average from .190 to .308 and is beginning to feel stronger and more comfortable, which might be the most positive takeaway from this game for the Mariners.
“I lost a lot of playing time, and I told you before it’s going to take awhile to get back in time,” he said. “Right now, I’m feeling I’m seeing the ball a little better. I’m trying to put a good swing, trying to be calm at the plate. It seems like it’s working right now.
“I feel stronger, obviously. Right now, my body feels good. That’s very important for me to keep feeling better. I’m just going day by day, trying to do the little things I can do, and just trying to play my game. That’s it.”
Asked if he feels nearly ready to play every day, Gutierrez said, “Yeah, I think I’m getting to that point. We talk about it. Obviously, I’m still feeling some soreness and all that kind of stuff. But I’m getting to the point I’m feeling better with my legs, and that’s the most important thing for me. As soon as I feel ready with my legs, I’m going to be ready to play every day.”
He’s trying to accelerate the process by a workout regimen before each game that includes weights, a stint in the hot tub and cold tub, a massage and lots of stretching.
“I know it’s important,” he said. “If I feel good with my legs, I’m going to be ready.”
Mostly, Gutierrez is happy to be healthy again.
“Right now, I’m not thinking about anything. I’m not thinking about injuries, I’m not thinking about nothing. Just trying to go out there, concentrate for the game, seeing the ball, put up good at-bats. It feels great to be back with my team again playing almost every day. It’s a big relief for me to be here again.”



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