SEATTLE MARINERS

Mariners Breakdown: Where things stand after 2nd straight series loss

Jun 23, 2024, 5:36 PM | Updated: Jun 24, 2024, 7:46 am

Seattle Mariners Cal Raleigh Marlins 2024...

Jake Burger of the Miami Marlins slides home safe against Cal Raleigh and the Seattle Mariners on Friday. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

(Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Just four days ago, the Seattle Mariners were the hottest team in baseball. They had rattled off an MLB-best 17-5 stretch, which pushed them a season-high 13 games over .500 and gave them a commanding 10-game lead atop the American League West – their largest division lead in more than two decades.

Things sure can change quickly in baseball.

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The Mariners have now lost four of their past five games since that high-water mark last Wednesday, including a disappointing series loss this weekend to the lowly Miami Marlins, who have the third-worst record in the majors.

Seattle dropped Friday’s series opener 3-2 in 10 innings, losing on a walkoff single by Tim Anderson. The Mariners rebounded with a 9-0 rout on Saturday that included a 15-hit outburst, their second-highest hit total of the season. But right-hander Bryce Miller struggled in Sunday’s series finale and Seattle’s late rally fell short in a 6-4 defeat. It marks the first time since April 14 that the Mariners have lost back-to-back series.

Standings update

On Wednesday morning, the Mariners led the AL West by double digits. That advantage has been whittled nearly in half. Houston and Texas have both taken advantage of Seattle’s skid, with the second-place Astros moving within six games of the Mariners (45-35) and the third-place Rangers within 6.5 games.

The Astros (38-40) have won five straight and are fresh off a three-game sweep of the mighty Baltimore Orioles, who own the fourth-best record in baseball. The Rangers (37-40) have won four straight and just swept the slumping Kansas City Royals, capped by a stretch of 22 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.

Even more importantly for Texas, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer made his long-awaited season debut on Sunday and was brilliant. After missing nearly the first three months of the season with a nerve issue, the 39-year-old ace pitched five scoreless innings of one-hit ball in the Rangers’ sweep-clinching victory.

Who’s hot

After tossing eight scoreless innings in last Sunday’s sweep-clinching win over Texas, Logan Gilbert spun another eight scoreless innings in Saturday’s victory over the Marlins. The 27-year-old right-hander allowed a total of just six hits and one walk in those two outings, while racking up 15 strikeouts. Gilbert’s ERA sits at 2.71, which is seventh in the AL.

George Kirby allowed two runs and five hits in seven strong innings on Friday, with the only damage coming on a pair of solo homers on back-to-back pitches in the sixth inning. The 26-year-old right-hander has a 1.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 31 innings over his past five starts, with 32 strikeouts and just three walks over that stretch.

Ryan Bliss is making a case to remain on the 26-man roster when starting second baseman Jorge Polanco returns from the injured list, which could be as early as Monday. Bliss is 7 for 12 with three doubles, a triple and five RBIs in his past four games, including back-to-back three-hit games on Friday and Saturday. Since being promoted from Triple-A Tacoma to help fill in for Polanco, the 24-year-old rookie second baseman has batted .265/.345/.429 with one homer, one triple, three doubles and four steals in 21 games. He’s also made a number of nice defensive plays.

Dominic Canzone went 4 for 5 with a homer on Saturday. The 26-year-old outfielder is batting .378 with two homers and two doubles in his past 13 games.

Who’s not

Outfielder Mitch Haniger is in an 0-for-13 slump through the first six games of the Mariners’ nine-game East Coast road trip. First baseman Ty France is 1 for 17 since returning last Tuesday from a fractured heel. Catcher Cal Raleigh is hitting just .176 with one homer in 21 games this month, including just 2 for 19 on the current road trip. Outfielder Julio Rodríguez is just 3 for 21 on the road trip.

Promising news

Hard-throwing reliever Gregory Santos completed another significant step in his rehab process. The 24-year-old right-hander threw a live batting practice session prior to Saturday’s game, facing a pair of rookies in Bliss and Tyler Locklear over an inning of work, according to Mariners insider Shannon Drayer. Santos’ fastball topped out at 99 mph, Drayer reported.

Santos, who was acquired in a Feb. 3 trade with the Chicago White Sox, has been sidelined with a lat strain since spring training. If all goes well, Drayer reported that Santos likely will throw one more bullpen and one more live batting practice session before he begins a rehab assignment. Santos’ return would provide a major boost for the Mariners’ bullpen, which has been decimated with injuries this season.

Up next

The Mariners wrap up their nine-game road trip with a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays that begins on Monday.

The Rays, who have made five consecutive playoff appearances, have struggled to a 38-40 record this season. They are fourth in the AL East and currently sit four games behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL’s third and final wild card spot. They have played better lately, winning five of their past seven games – including back-to-back extra-inning wins over the Minnesota Twins last week.

Tampa Bay has struggled both at the plate and on the mound. The Rays’ lineup ranks 12th out of 15 teams in the AL with a .673 OPS and their pitching staff ranks 13th with a 4.38 ERA. In the upcoming series, all three scheduled starters for Tampa Bay have plus-4.00 ERAs.

This series also could give Mariners fans an up-close look at some potential trade targets. During an appearance on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob last Thursday, MLB Network insider Jon Morosi said, “The Rays are the potential seller that I’m watching most carefully as a possible fit for the Mariners.”

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Mariners Trade Targets: Three Marlins to keep an eye on
• Gregory Santos takes big step toward Seattle Mariners debut
Morosi: The familiar Mariners trade partner to keep an eye on
• Bob’s Baseball Breakdown: What M’s offense needs to show
• Where Mariners should be comfortable trading prospects from

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