Mariners Breakdown: Storylines after fourth straight series loss

Jun 30, 2024, 6:24 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez Twins 2024...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners reacts after lining out on Sunday. (Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

(Brandon Sloter/Getty Images)

After a rough East Coast road trip, the first-place Seattle Mariners were hoping a return to the friendly confines of T-Mobile Park would help them get back on track.

It didn’t work out that way.

MLB insider reports on Mariners’ trade pursuits

The Mariners dropped two of three to the Minnesota Twins this weekend and lost a series at home for the first time since mid-April. It ended a streak of nine consecutive series wins at T-Mobile Park, which was the second-longest such streak in franchise history.

Seattle benefited from some chaos ball in the series opener, rallying for a 3-2 walkoff win in 10 innings on Friday night. But the Mariners dropped the final two games, losing 5-1 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday.

Seattle (47-39) has now lost four consecutive series overall. The Mariners are 3-8 since rattling off a 17-5 stretch earlier this month.

Standings update

Less than two weeks ago, the Mariners held a commanding 10-game lead atop the AL West. It’s a much different story now.

Seattle’s lead has dwindled to just 3.5 games over the second-place Houston Astros (42-41), who have surged back into contention with nine wins in their past 10 games. One piece of good news: The Mariners are still 8.5 games ahead of the third-place Texas Rangers (37-46), who have lost six straight.

Hitting struggles continue

The Mariners’ hitting woes this season have been well-documented. They continued with another rough series at the plate this weekend, as Seattle mustered a total of just seven runs in the three-game set.

In some ways, the Mariners were fortunate even to scratch across that many runs. Their game-tying run on Friday night came on an error. Their game-winning run later that night came in extra innings, with the benefit of an automatic runner starting the frame at second base. And on Sunday, one of their runs came one batter after Minnesota center fielder Byron Buxton lost a fly ball in the sun.

Seattle’s offense continues to sit at or near the bottom of the majors in nearly every key statistical category. Through Saturday, the Mariners ranked 27th in runs per game (3.87), dead-last in batting average (.218), 25th in on-base percentage (.298), 26th in slugging percentage (.366) and 26th in OPS (.664). They also have the highest strikeout rate in the majors at 27.9%, which is 1.6% higher than the next-closest team.

Bullpen gives up game-changing homers

With the Mariners playing in so many low-scoring games, their bullpen consistently finds itself in high-stress situations. That pressure has only been amplified by a slew of injuries that have tested the group’s depth. So, it’s not surprising that the bullpen has been showing more and more cracks of late.

Seattle relievers combined for four scoreless innings in Friday’s extra-inning victory, but they surrendered game-changing homers the next two days. In the sixth inning on Saturday, right-hander Trent Thornton tossed a center-cut fastball that Buxton belted for a three-run homer, which stretched the Twins’ lead to 5-1. And in the eighth inning on Sunday, right-hander Ryne Stanek threw a splitter that caught too much of the plate. Trevor Larnach made him pay, hitting a tiebreaking two-run shot that proved to be the difference in the series.

Thornton has been great this season, posting a 0.97 WHIP that ranks in the top 20 among AL relievers. Stanek had been strong lately, entering Sunday with a 10-game scoreless streak. But overall, ever since a dominant first month of the season, Seattle’s bullpen has been trending downward. Since May 1, the Mariners’ ‘pen ranks 23rd in the majors in ERA (4.59) and 15th in WHIP (1.25).

Gilbert wraps up dominant June

After tossing eight scoreless innings in each of his previous two starts, Logan Gilbert took a shutout into the sixth inning Friday night to extend his scoreless streak to 21 frames. The streak ended on a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, but that was the lone blemish in another strong outing for Gilbert. The 27-year-old right-hander limited the Twins to just two runs over six innings, giving him his MLB-best 14th quality start.

It capped a dominant June for Gilbert, who posted a 1.51 ERA and a 0.62 WHIP in five starts this month, along with 31 strikeouts and only one walk. Gilbert leads the majors with a 0.88 WHIP this season and ranks fifth in opponents’ batting average (.195) and ninth in ERA (2.72). He has allowed one earned run or fewer in nine of his 17 starts and has surrendered more than four runs only once all season.

Up next

After an off day Monday, the Mariners continue their nine-game homestand with a three-game set against the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore (53-31) recently had a season-long five-game losing streak, but has since responded by winning four of its past five games.

The Orioles’ heavy-hitting lineup averages an MLB-leading 5.2 runs per game and leads the majors in slugging percentage (.462), OPS (.778) and home runs (139). Baltimore has blasted a whopping 60 homers in June, which is 18 more than any other team. Power-hitting shortstop Gunnar Henderson is tied for second in the majors with 26 homers and outfielder Anthony Santander ranks fifth with 22 homers, including an MLB-best 13 this month. Baltimore also has one of the top pitching staffs in baseball, ranking third in ERA (3.44) and fourth in WHIP (1.17).

The Mariners lost two of three to the Orioles at Camden Yards in mid-May. Henderson homered in all three games.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Rowland-Smith: What stands out about Mariners pitchers’ recent hiccups
• Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez putting in extra work to solve struggles
• Seattle Mariners Injury Update: Latest on Bryan Woo, Gabe Speier and more
• Seattle Mariners reliever Gregory Santos to begin rehab assignment
• Big Game Hunting: Two splashy potential Seattle Mariners trade targets

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
High 84° | Low 59°
No game today.

Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners Andres Munoz Royals 2024...

Cameron Van Til

Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz named All-Star replacement

Seattle Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz was selected as a replacement to the American League roster for the MLB All-Star Game.

3 hours ago

Seattle Mariners Bryan Woo...

Brent Stecker

Mariners Roster Move: Bryan Woo back, reliever optioned

The Seattle Mariners have activated starting pitcher Bryan Woo from the 15-day injured list in time to start Friday night in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels.

4 hours ago

general baseball T-Mobile Park Mariners...

The Associated Press

Mariners, Red Sox minor leaguers suspended for positive drug tests

Seattle Mariners right-hander Yeury Tatiz was suspended for 80 games and Boston Red Sox right-hander Charlie Zink for 56 games following positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs.

5 hours ago

Seattle Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz...

Zac Hereth

Sadler: How Mariners get best from bullpen arms

Ex-Seattle Mariners pitcher Casey Sadler explains why the communication and preparation from the organization is so effective in the bullpen.

5 hours ago

Seattle Mariners trade deadline targets Nathaniel Lowe...

Brent Stecker

Mariners Trade Targets: 3 bats from within the AL West

Trades in the division are tougher to pull off, but not impossible, and the Seattle Mariners could target players from the bottom-three teams in the AL West.

7 hours ago

Seattle Mariners MLB Draft...

Cameron Van Til

Mariners MLB Draft Preview: Who they could take in first round

MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis discusses some potential first-round draft targets for the Seattle Mariners, including an ambidextrous pitcher.

11 hours ago

Mariners Breakdown: Storylines after fourth straight series loss