Hector Noesi (above) had two of the Mariners’ five hits in Seattle’s 2-0 loss to the Padres. It was that kind of day. The Mariners have hit pretty well on this road trip — a .276 average with 33 runs (none of them today, of course), nine doubles and eight homers in the six games. But they couldn’t get anything going today. Now they head home for a 10-game homestand, which normally is welcome for a struggling team. But the Mariners’ performance at home hasn’t been normal. They have a 12-19 record (compared to 19-24 on the road), and are hitting .202 as a team at the unfriendly confines of Safeco Field. At home, they are scoring 3.1 runs per game, on the road 4.9.
But you all know that. The home-road disparity is a well-covered topic, and while still relevant, what more can you say? Here’s another topic that needs to be discussed: Dustin Ackley is struggling mightily. Manager Eric Wedge talked about it after the game, showing support for his second baseman. I think he will ultimately be fine, and for now am willing to write this off as growing pains for a 24-year-old player in his first full season. A player who has hit everywhere he has been, and who showed so much potential last year in his first callup that I’m truly surprised at his ongoing struggles. Then again, maybe that .598 OPS Ackley put up in 26 games in September/October could have been a warning sign that teams were adjusting to him.
Right now, he needs to show he can adjust to the adjustments. Ackley was hitless in four at-bats on Sunday, striking out twice. He went 4-for-21 on the road trip (.190). He’s hitting .219 in June (16-for-73), with 23 strikeouts and just two extra-base hits, both doubles.
Ackley’s overall average has dropped to .243, with a .657 OPS. Last year, as a rookie, Ackley hit .273 with a .765 OPS. Wedge, however, doesn’t believe there’s any need for a radical adjustment by Ackley.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I still think it’s more about his approach and mindset. Recognizing what they’re doing to him. He’s going to have to make some adjustments. I know he’s in the process of trying to do that.
“I know he’s frustrated right now. He’s going to be fine. He needs to recognize what’s been going on for a period of time, and take that away from the opposition. That’s what he has to do. We’ll help him get there.”
Particularly troubling has been Ackley’s strikeouts. After fanning 79 times last year in 333 at-bats, he has struck out 66 times in 274 at-bats so far this season.
“He’s not going to be a guy that’s going to strike out like he is now,” Wedge said. “He just has too much barrel to the ball. His hands are good. They’re pitching him tough. He had a good break-in year last year, and they’re pitching him tough. He just has to make that adjustment and take it away from them.”
The Mariners desperately need Ackley to do so.