By Jim Moore
Remember when the Mariners started out 2-0 and Michael Morse hit two home runs in a 7-1 victory over the A’s? Remember when the A’s were 0-2 and looked pedestrian at best?
A week and a half later, the M’s have lost seven of their last nine games, including two to the Astros. The A’s haven’t lost since Morse drilled those home runs – Oakland has won eight in a row and sits atop the AL West at 8-2.
I think we were OK with the Mariners coming back for their 10-game homestand at 3-4 after a season-opening road trip. We figured they’d be 6-4 after sweeping the Astros. But they not only lost two of three to the Astros, they were embarrassed. Houston out-hit the Mariners 46-21 in the series, and I forget how many home runs they belted, but it was a lot.
Michael Morse, the American League home run leader, could miss up to a week after he was hit in the hand by a pitch. (AP)
The Mariners looked like the team that’s supposed to lose 100 games this year, and Houston looked like the team that’s supposed to go 81-81. The roles were disturbingly flip-flopped.
Brandon Maurer was terrible, lasting 2/3 of an inning, giving up six runs on seven hits. That’s acceptable. He’s a rookie. He had a 0.90 ERA in spring training. We expect him to bounce back, hopefully on Sunday against the Rangers.
Blake Beavan was terrible, too, and that’s not acceptable. I understand that he’s the fifth pitcher in the rotation, but I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see a guy get batters out more than he does.
And while he’s at it, maybe he could pick up the pace a little bit. Beavan was painful to watch in that 8-3 Mariners’ loss Wednesday night.
Then, as you know, the Mariners lost two of their best players to injury. Michael Saunders sprained his right shoulder Wednesday night and is out at least two weeks, and Morse will be out for three days to a week with a broken pinky.
I thought the Mariners would be more fun and exciting this year, and they still figure to be, but not so much in the first four games at Safeco Field.
At least Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero showed signs of life in the 4-3 loss to the Rangers last night with two hits apiece. But Kyle Seager went 1-for-5 and is batting .154.
Dustin Ackley got the night off, which was surprising because Texas starter Justin Grimm’s a right-hander. Ackley’s replacement, Robert Andino, is a right-handed batter.
Made no sense until you consider that Ackley’s batting .100 and needed the night off for whatever reason – maybe to spare us from watching him ground out to second base again.
As bad as it was against the Astros, you expected the Mariners to rebound last night against Texas with Felix Hernandez pitching, supported by all kinds of fans wearing yellow T-shirts and flashing K-cards. But Felix was un-Felix-like, allowing 10 hits and three runs, throwing 113 pitches in 6 2/3 innings.
The Mariners could have tied the game at 4-4 but couldn’t score on a suicide squeeze in the eighth inning. I’m trying to remember the last time I’ve seen a team fail to score on a suicide squeeze when the bunt was laid down successfully, as it was by Brendan Ryan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it happen.
I’ve heard fans blaming Ryan for not laying down a better bunt, but I’m blaming Endy Chavez for not getting a better jump or simply crediting Texas pitcher Robbie Ross for making a terrific play.
Along with wondering about Ackley and suicide squeezes, I’ve got other questions about the Mariners, such as: “What’s the deal with Dave Valle’s hair?”
It’s brutal when the highlight of the homestand so far is the fan who caught a foul ball in his beer and chugged it.
We thought the Mariners would have a more potent lineup, and in terms of home runs, we’ve seen it – they have 15 homers in 11 games, putting them on a pace for 220 for the season.
But they need to bounce back this weekend in the last three games against the Rangers and the last three games of the homestand against Detroit next week.
All they have to do to start the turnaround tonight is beat Yu Darvish, the same pitcher who came within one out of throwing a perfect game last week against the Astros, the same team that scorched the Mariners this week.