Mariners breakdown: 3 things that stand out after series sweep

Jul 10, 2024, 7:05 PM

Seattle Mariners players celebrate vs. San Diego...

The Seattle Mariners celebrate a 2-0 win over the San Diego Padres during a 2024 game. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

(Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

After six consecutive series losses, the Seattle Mariners got back on the right track with a two-game sweep of the San Diego Padres in the Vedder Cup rivalry clash.

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Now the team is one step closer to taking an American League West lead into the All-Star break. The Mariners have only one series left before the Midsummer Classic, a four-game set starting Thursday with the Los Angeles Angels.

Here’s three things that stand out after the sweep with the All-Star Game just around the corner.

Pitching staff continues to be special

This certainly isn’t a revelation, but the two-game sweep of the Padres was a little reminder of just how special the Mariners’ pitching staff is. In two games against a lineup that’s ninth in MLB in runs scored and features four All-Star selections, Seattle allowed just three runs on 10 hits and four walks. Wednesday’s shutout marked just the second time San Diego didn’t score a run since May 25.

First-time All-Star Logan Gilbert kicked it off with stellar outing on Tuesday, taking a shutout into the seventh inning and delivering 7 2/3 inning with three runs allowed on four hits and one walk. It was just another in what’s been a season of good outings for the right-hander, who’s starting to build his case for a Cy Young.

Bryce Miller took the baton and delivered one of his best starts of the season the following day. Miller pitched six scoreless innings and kept the Padres’ lineup quiet despite only one strikeout. It was the fourth time Miller held an opponent scoreless this season, and the first time against a winning team or while pitching on the road since his second start of the season against Milwaukee.

Gregory Santos also made his debut with the team, and the big right-hander looked as electric as advertised. Santos flashed the 100-plus mph sinker and 90-plus mph slider that make his repertoire standout. Plus, the fire he displayed in the back and forth with San Diego’s Jurickson Profar – the first batter he faced this season – feels like the type of edge this team has been missing at times.

The strikeout problem isn’t going away

The goal for the Mariners’ front office during the offseason was to put together a lineup with less swing-and-miss. An attempt was made, but it hasn’t worked out, and Tuesday’s eight-run performance might be the indicator that the strikeouts are simply going to be a problem the Mariners have to live with for the remainder of the season.

The eight runs scored in that game were welcomed for Seattle’s floundering offense, but even the Mariners were destined to find some offensive production off struggling Padres rookie Adam Mazur. The right-hander entered the game with a 7.52 ERA, a high walk rate, a low chase rate and a strikeout rate that ranked at the very bottom of MLB in the first percentile, according to Statcast.

The Mariners did what they were supposed to against Mazur, scoring five runs and chasing him after 4 2/3 innings. However, they struck out six times against him, a career best for the 23 year old, and 11 times overall. After fanning 13 more times in Wednesday’s win, Seattle has struck out 10 or more times in 14 consecutive games and 23 of their past 31.

The Mariners could address those strikeout problems to a point at the trade deadline, but this team is ultimately going to need to win games with strikeouts being a part of the offense.

Time to get healthy

When you’re a playoff contender with hopes of winning a division title, you need to win games against bad teams, and the Mariners have plenty of those coming before the trade deadline.

The series opener with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday marks the beginning of a 13-game stretch sandwiched around the All-Star Break and that gives the team a chance to regain the cushion it once had in the AL West. Ten of those 13 games come against the sub-.500 Angels and White Sox, the latter of which holds the worst record in MLB. The three remaining games are at home against the Astros team that’s currently on the Mariners’ heels (2 1/2 games back at the time this was published, but leading Miami 9-1 in the sixth inning). The Astros took advantage of a soft schedule while Seattle was struggling prior to its series against San Diego to reel the Mariners in, so this is a time where Seattle can return the favor.

Not only is this a chance to get in a better position within the division, but it’s also an opportunity to get closer to a top-two seed and a by into a home series in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Mariners have been much better team at home this season (30-18 at home, 21-25 on the road). They’re currently seven games behind the Baltimore Orioles for second in the AL and 7 1/2 games behind the AL-leading Cleveland Guardians.

Also worth noting is this is a prime opportunity for the offense to build some momentum. The Angels and White Sox rank 27th and 28th, respectively, in team ERA, while the Astros have a shaky starting rotation and some key bullpen pieces having inconsistent seasons.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Future of a Mariners minor league affiliate is now uncertain
• Mariners place OF on IL, recall toolsy prospect from Tacoma
• A World Series winner that can be the blueprint for Mariners
• Rost: Six bats that are potential trade fits for Mariners’ lineup
• Salk: Seattle Mariners have two types of hitters to target in trades

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