We’re getting to that point in the season again where this Mariners offense is going to have to kick it into gear. The three-week mark is just around the corner and so far, the offense has been worse than last season.
After tonight’s 7-0 loss to the Texas Rangers, the Mariners are now averaging 3.22 runs per game compared to 3.72 a year ago after 18 games.
Batting average is also down, from .233 to .220. OBP is almost dead even at .285 compared to .284, while slugging is down from .353 to .350.
And remember, that isn’t a juggernaut they put on the field last year. This year’s offense is supposed to be better with the new additions. With the “young core” developing over last year. So far, we’re not seeing it. And that will spell bad news for the folks in charge of this rebuilding plan if things keep going this way.
Make no mistake: it is indeed early. The Mariners could win a game here the next two days, sweep the Astros and head home nearly a .500 team at 11-12.
So, way too soon to panic.
But yeah, it’s OK to ask questions. Especially when the team loses seven of 10 and has struck out 44 times the past three games.
“We have faced good pitchers, but we’re a lot better than that,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said after the game. “We’re a lot better than that and the one thing is with two strikes. We’ve got to do a better job with two strikes.”
How so, I asked him?
“Just protecting the plate and being disciplined at the same time,” he said. “That’s why it’s so tough to hit. It’s one of the many reasons. One, you’re up there not to take strike three. And two, you’re up there not to chase, too. So, it’s just having better overall discipline and better pitch recognition.”
Kyle Seager had the only extra base hit by the Mariners tonight and said afterwards that hitting with two strikes takes a different mindset.
“It’s a battle,” he said. “You get in there with two strikes and it’s a battle. You have t dig in there and fight. That’s basically what it comes down to and sometimes you’ll be in there fighting and they’ll surprise you with a pitch. But for the most part, you’ve got to do whatever you can to put the ball into play.”
And so far, the Mariners are not doing enough. When they did put it into play tonight, bad things happened, like that Raul Ibanez double play. He had a bad game tonight.
So did Justin Smoak, who left five runners on base with strikeouts. He did reach base twice, but Ibanez could not advance him.
There were others, too, who did little. Too many passengers, not enough drivers. We’ve seen this before.
Joe Saunders was OK until that one inning in the fifth when he walked those two guys — which he wasn’t happy about — but then could not catch a break. Hits started falling in and the runs piled up in a hurry.
Hector Noesi delivered 3 1/3 innings of long relief and frankly, that was the best result of the night where the Mariners were concerned.
And if that continues to be the case with their game highlights, it’s going to be a long, long year. Time for the Mariners to flip the switch and start playing some ball. They are capable of a lot more than this.
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