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Mariners’ first homestand raises plenty of familiar concerns

It took three hours and 20 minutes during the last game of a six-game homestand to finally see the Mariners win in Seattle, thanks to Dae-Ho Lee’s two-run homer in the 10th inning Wednesday afternoon. Momentarily, that helped erase some of the concerns raised during a pair of three-game series against Oakland and Texas. But overall, the Mariners scored 11 runs in 56 innings at Safeco Field and had only 30 hits, an average of five a game.

It’s strange and it’s not at the same time. We’ve seen a lack of hitting in general and with runners in scoring position for years now. I just thought it might change with this new “control the zone” approach featuring a new general manager, new manager and new players.

It’s almost as if the team is cursed. No matter who you are, when you put on a Mariners uniform, you too will suddenly turn into a non-hitting machine.

If you’re like me, you’ve reached the point of being happy when they go on the road like they are now, with three games against the Yankees, three against Cleveland and three against the Angels.

They’re a different team on the road. Last year, they had a winning record on the road and a losing record at home. You know what that is? Messed up. Playoff teams, even halfway decent teams, win more games at home than they do on the road. That’s why they call it a home-field advantage. The Mariners have turned Safeco Field into a home-field disadvantage, and that makes no sense.

They supposedly built a team that is a better fit for its spacious ballpark, yet we haven’t seen it through six games.

Danny O’Neil expressed a reasonable concern this week when he mentioned that the Mariners have the oldest roster in the major leagues. Thirteen of their 25 players are 30 or older, and that will increase to 14 when Steve Cishek turns 30 in June. And a lot of these players are in their mid-30s, not their early-30s. You can’t expect any of them to get better; you just hope they can maintain their career stats for one more year.

O’Neil said it’s not a major problem. If it doesn’t work out with some of these older players, they were temporary fixes anyway and the Mariners can trade them in July if the season goes south. But here’s my problem with that: I thought they were brought in to help the season go north. I’m not ready to go south again. I don’t think that was the plan.

Look at the group of players who are 33. Robinson Cano, Lee, Franklin Gutierrez, Seth Smith and Chris Iannetta. Cano is their best hope, but even with his fifth homer Wednesday, he’s 2 for his last 22.

710 Mariners insider Shannon Drayer talks about Gutierrez being slowed by the flu in spring training, and I’m thinking: “When was the last time he wasn’t slowed by something? And, really, the flu? That slows you down for a while, but it doesn’t slow you down for four weeks!” I like Guti and the pop in his bat, but he’s not exactly reliable, and now we hear that Smith is dealing with a pulled groin. And Iannetta, coming off a sub-.200 season, has two hits in his last 18 at-bats.

I want to be optimistic, and maybe the Mariners will go 7-2 or 6-3 on this road trip. There are reasons to think that’s possible with their rotation – though Wade Miley has been shaky in his first two starts – and having better at-bats on the road.

But you and I have been watching the same games. They looked good in two of them in Texas and were passable at best Wednesday afternoon.

As much as I want to think they’ll be playoff contenders, the Mariners look like a so-so team thus far with more issues than expected.

The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com, KitsapSun.com and jimmooregocougs.com. You can reach Jim at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.