Dipoto: ‘Idling’ Mariners need to get back to doing ‘little things’
After ending the first half of the season on a 14-game winning streak to get firmly back in playoff contention, the Mariners haven’t been as good since the All-Star Break. That’s not to say they’ve been bad, though.
While Seattle is 67-57 overall this year, they’re just 16-15 since the mid-July break. That includes a 5-5 record over the Mariners’ last 10 games, which includes series losses to the Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s, and two games split with the Washington Nationals. Oakland (46-79) and Washington (42-83) have the two worst records in MLB this season, while Texas is 10 games under .500 (57-67).
What’s especially been an issue for the Mariners, as has been the case at times this year, is stringing together hits and scoring runs. Overall, the Mariners have scored four or more runs in just 17 of their 31 second-half games and have tallied 11 total runs over their last four games.
“It feels like we’re idling,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto told Mike Salk during his weekly visit on Seattle Sports 710 AM. “And really in the second half, we’ve played .500-ish ball. And that’s perfectly reasonable over a long season and through a (smaller) sample size. This team has been really good for three months, and really, particularly for the last five games, it feels like we are moving slow.”
Dipoto said there could be “any number of reasons” why the Mariners are playing such average baseball, including the comedown from an emotional high point of winning two series over the AL East-leading Yankees this month.
“The high emotion coming out of the Yankees series, it could be just the natural ebbs and flows of the season,” he said. “But we need to get back to doing the little things that we’ve done so well through the course of the season that win us games, and that, frankly, we just haven’t done for the last week or so.”
What the Mariners have done so well this season has been pitching, playing strong defense, being smart on the bases and coming up with some timely hitting. The latter has especially lacked of late, and Dipoto says you’ll likely start to see Seattle adjust as a result, and not just at the plate.
“I think from a managerial standpoint, you’ll see Scott (Servais) do it where you try to play some small ball, you might get runners on the move,” Dipoto said. “You saw it (in Wednesday’s loss to Washington), you will start to to adjust when you know you’re playing tight games. For instance, yesterday when we’re down 1-0 and we draw the infield in (in the fifth inning) with George Kirby on the mound, that’s probably not the situation you want to want to be in where you feel like another run is that damaging that early in the game. But that’s right now how it feels, and you adjust. And just as easily as we fell into this rut, we will get back out. It’s funny how it works.”
Part of why the Mariners’ offensive output has lacked is due to some big bats scuffling. No one is in a worse funk for Seattle right now than All-Star first baseman Ty France. He entered the All-Star break slashing .308/.376/.476 with an .853 OPS. After an 0-for-4 day on Wednesday, France’s season slash line is .278/.348/.425 (.772 OPS) going into Thursday’s series opener with Cleveland.
Since the break, France has a slash line of .182/.257/.283. In August, France’s numbers are even worse as he’s slashing just .129/.182/.171 with one extra base hit.
“It certainly hurts. It makes it difficult to put together rallies when you have one or multiple hitters in your lineup (struggling), particularly guys that you go to in the big situations or that wind up coming up there with traffic,” Dipoto said. “And they’re not trying to make outs. It’s a hard game, and they’re aware that they’re struggling.”
France in particular is aware that “it’s been a rough go for him,” Dipoto said, but he isn’t too concerned with France or the team as a whole.
“This is kind of how a baseball season goes, and you don’t go 3 for 10 every time, and that’s the best way I can put it,” he said. “Sometimes you’re gonna go 6 for 10, and then you’ll go 0 for 10. It’s a unique feeling in a long season. Try not to get caught up too much in the day-to-day, but it sure would be a kick in the shorts for us if we get these guys going a little bit.”
The Jerry Dipoto Show airs at 8:30 a.m. live every Thursday on Seattle Sports 710 AM. Listen to the podcast of this week’s edition at this link or in the player below.