Blowers: Mariners’ lineup woes ‘even worse’ due to team’s stellar pitching
After winning four straight series, the Mariners dropped two in a row to the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins and find themselves eight games under .500 after losing Thursday’s series opener to the Los Angeles Angels.
A number of things have gone wrong for the Mariners this season, but the overall offensive production has been a big reason why they’re in fourth place in the AL West. That’s especially true of late.
After averaging 4.52 runs per game in April, Seattle averaged 3.78 in May. That number has dropped to 3.53 in June.
So what’s going on with the lineup? Former Mariners third baseman and current ROOT Sports color commentator Mike Blowers joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob on Tuesday to share some thoughts on the lineup as well as how good pitching performances from the M’s is putting the offense’s struggles further in the spotlight.
“I think I would agree it’s been inconsistent, and there’s a variety of reasons for it,” Blowers said. “First of all, I think – and I’ve been a part of it – when you are a club that is struggling offensively and you’re getting really good pitching performances – which they have for the most part, especially from the rotation and the bullpen looks like they’ve got all that settled out down there as those guys are throwing well – you think, ‘Man, we just score three or four runs, that’s another win, and we just can’t do it.’ That makes it more frustrating, I think, for people to watch, and the games are kind of stale because nothing is happening.”
The Mariners have gotten some fantastic starting pitching performances of late, such as seven scoreless from Robbie Ray versus Boston over the weekend, six innings of 2-run ball by Chris Flexen on Monday against Minnesota, which was followed by six scoreless from Logan Gilbert on Tuesday and 6 2/3 innings of 1-run ball by Marco Gonzales on Wednesday. Rookie George Kirby also pitched a quality start on Thursday when he gave up two runs in six innings against the Angels.
The issue for the Mariners’ lineup hasn’t been getting runners on base, but rather cashing in on those opportunities.
As Blowers pointed out during the interview, the Mariners, despite ranking 22nd in batting average, have stranded the most baserunners in baseball this season and are averaging 7.42 runners left on base per game.
“A big part of that is because they’ve walked so much. There’s a lot of traffic out there,” Blowers said. ” … (Manager Scott Servais) said, ‘We just need to get the big hit.’ And I think that’s the biggest part, too, (when) you put the traffic out there and it looks like the other team is in trouble and then you hit into a double play or you strike out. These things are going to happen. But I think when you have a quality pitching performance on your side of things, that makes it even worse. So they’ve just got to get it figured out, they have to get some guys going in the right direction.”
The Mariners have mostly been carried by three to four players this season in Ty France, J.P. Crawford, Eugenio Suárez and rookie Julio Rodríguez, but Blowers has been impressed with players at the bottom of Seattle’s lineup like Cal Raleigh and Taylor Trammell of late.
“The guys at the bottom of the order are making their contributions, but you kind of have to get four or five guys going in the right direction at one time,” Blowers said. “And that’s something that hasn’t happened a whole lot for them, so hopefully that’ll change and they can start to score a few more runs because with the pitching that they’re getting right now, you would think they would win more ballgames and more series, which they (have done a better job of recently).”
Someone who was expected to be a key part of the Mariners’ lineup in 2022 is left fielder Jesse Winker.
Unfortunately for both Winker and the Mariners, the 2021 All-Star has really struggled this season, slashing .214/.326/.308 with 13 extra-base hits in 61 games played.
Blowers recalled conversations he and former Mariners first baseman Tino Martinez had with then-manager Lou Piniella.
“Basically, I think Jesse’s in the same boat right now. And that is if this team is going to do something and get on a winning streak, Jesse has to hit,” Blowers said. ” … He doesn’t have to do anything spectacular and not look at where his overall batting average is or any of that, he just needs to be the guy that (he has been) on the back of his baseball card.”
Blowers thinks Winker getting hot would be extremely big for the Mariners.
“If he can get that going the rest of the way out, that would be a huge lift for this club,” he said. “He’s been a really good player in this league. He’s done it for a while. He just needs to get back to that on a consistent basis. And you know what? Time will tell and we’ll see where we’re at. But we’re no longer early in the season … Keep winning series and try to get yourself up to .500 by the (All-Star Break) … But they need Jesse to hit, there’s no question about it.”
Listen to the full discussion from Tuesday at this link or in the player below.