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September 9, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Mariners going with creative-looking lineup today

Well, this isn’t quite the lineup we’re used to seeing for a Mariners game as the team tries to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Oakland Athletics.
Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak, both struggling again in September, will take a seat as Franklin Gutierrez leads off and Kyle Seager moves to second base. Mike Carp will take Smoak’s spot at first base.
Alex Liddi fills in for Seager at third.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said today that the lineup is all about giving the team its best shot and a different look against left-hander Tommy Milone. But it speaks volumes that two of the team’s hoped-for cornerstones can’t be counted on in that situation.
“It’s been a tough couple of days, so we’re going to give a couple of guys a different look at a left-hander,” Wedge said. “I think that’s a positive thing.”
Ackley is 6-for-29 (.207) with a .440 OPS in September so far. Over the past two weeks, he’s hitting just .184 with a .461 OPS, so all of that talk we’d seen discussed in some corners about how he’d solved his swing issues appears to have been somewhat premature.
Smoak is .182 with a .477 OPS in September and .132 with a .353 OPS the past couple of weeks.
Wedge wants both to get today off as well as tomorrow’s off-day and try to settle themselves a bit.
While both may have their issues versus lefties, it’s their struggles versus all types of pitchers — lefty, righty, big, small, fat, tall — that have been a factor all season. There are only so many black holes you can have in a lineup at one time. With .196-hitting Brendan Ryan a mainstay at shortstop, the M’s have just about hit their saturation point.
This team has gone 18 consecutive games in which it has done all of its scoring in just one or two innings. The M’s are 9-9 in those games, but just 1-7 over that span against better-than-.500 teams — which is as telling a stat as any that we’ve seen in the second half.
In other words, this offense has gotten away with stuff against the dregs of the AL, but that’s no longer going to be enough now that the M’s aren’t playing the Twins, Indians or Red Sox. During that 1-7 stretch against good teams, the M’s have given up an average of 5.6 runs per game.
In going 8-2 against the bottom-feeders, Seattle pitching held opponents to 2.7 runs per game — and that includes a 10-spot allowed versus the Twins. Take that one game out of the equation and M’s pitching held bottom-feeders to 1.9 runs per game.
Which is how you win, even when all of your own scoring is done in just one or two innings.
The problem is, half-decent teams can score more than two runs per game — even with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Which is why, unless something changes big with the offense these final few weeks, it will be harder to find those winning streaks that were so prevalent last month.

The lineups:
Athletics (78-60)
4 Coco Crisp (S) CF
31 Jonny Gomes DH
16 Josh Reddick (L) RF
52 Yoenis Cespedes LF
22 Chris Carter 1B
20 Josh Donaldson 3B
36 Derek Norris C
5 Stephen Drew (L) SS
17 Adam Rosales 2B
57 Tommy Milone LHP
Mariners (67-73)
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
55 Michael Saunders (L) LF
63 Jesus Montero DH
15 Kyle Seager (L) 2B
30 Miguel Olivo C
33 Casper Wells RF
20 Mike Carp (L) 1B
16 Alex Liddi 3B
26 Brendan Ryan SS
38 Jason Vargas LHP

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero


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