Still hard to believe in Mariners despite their recent hot stretch

May 28, 2015, 11:04 AM | Updated: 11:46 am
The Mariners have won 12 of their last 18 games to make it back to .500 for the first time since Ap...
The Mariners have won 12 of their last 18 games to make it back to .500 for the first time since April 12. (AP)
(AP)

The Mariners went 6-3 on their last homestand and 6-3 on their last road trip. If they were to maintain a 12-6 pace the rest of the season, they’d win 100 games.

All of this just happened. We saw it happen at Safeco Field, and we saw it happen on ROOT Sports (where, by the way, I know they’re doing it on a trial basis, but I like the pairing of Aaron Goldsmith and Mike Blowers on TV and Dave Sims and Rick Rizzs on radio. Just seems to emphasize all of their strengths if you ask me, which you didn’t, but I threw it out there anyway).

Hernandez gets eighth win, Mariners beat Rays 3-0

So why am I having a hard time buying into the Mariners? They’re back at square one and have fought hard to get there. That should be reason enough to fully support them because gritty teams should be embraced.

I really don’t want to have a cynical, skeptical, negative attitude. Though it sounds like it at times, I don’t want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom who always walks around with a cloud over his head. I’d rather be optimistic than pessimistic, but how about realistic?

Before the season started, I thought the Mariners would go 100-62. But now they appear to be exactly what they are, a .500 team with some strengths but too many weaknesses and question marks to expect a winning season.

One of the best parts: With every turn through the rotation, the way that Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Roenis Elias and J.A. Happ have been pitching, the Mariners have a good chance to win four of five games.

And to be frank, every time Taijuan Walker pitches, they have a better chance of losing than winning. What is going on with him? I don’t care if he’s 22 and that young pitchers take time to develop, I still expected Walker to be better than this.

Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager have been gangbusters, a pair of big boppers who can single-handedly win games as they proved Tuesday and Wednesday in Tampa Bay.

The bullpen hasn’t been up to last year’s standards, but I still think it’s good enough to get the job done, especially with four starters who pitch at least six innings and typically seven, giving relievers plenty of rest.

I just see too many holes in the lineup to sustain their recent success. As long as you continue to play Dustin Ackley in left field, it’s not a hole in the lineup as much as a sinkhole. For God’s sake, put Brad Miller out there and leave him there, against right-handers and left-handers. This platoon stuff has gotten out of control.

Or if you’re not comfortable with Miller as your every-day left fielder, put Seth Smith out there. He’s a veteran grinder with the third-best average on the team at .264. Mix in Rickie Weeks and hope that his ability to hit lefties offsets his weak arm and subpar play in the outfield.

In center field, I guess you just hope – or perhaps even pray – that Austin Jackson can at least be an average player. I don’t understand how a guy who strikes out as much as he does can be a leadoff batter. It’s a contract year for Jackson so maybe that will motivate him to be more productive.

Hole No. 3 is behind the plate with Mike Zunino batting .181. Hole No. 4 is at shortstop with Chris Taylor batting .169. Until Thursday, Zunino had a .304 average in games after he had a day off. Maybe that will help with backup catcher Welington Castillo getting more playing time than Jesus Sucre was.

Taylor should come around, and Robinson Cano will, too, won’t he? Maybe Cano will heat up and compensate for Cruz when he cools down. Still, to this point this year, Cano has been a major disappointment based simply on bang for your buck.

With Logan Morrison at first base, it’s a mixed bag of good and bad with mediocre in between. He strikes me as being a streaky hitter who has certainly been impressive enough as a defensive first baseman.

Now that Cruz is starting to hit better as a DH, I’d go back to the original plan of giving Smith and Justin Ruggiano more opportunities in right field.

To me, those are all tangible reasons why I have a hard time buying in. But it could be something else, as outlined by Mariners fan Rich Haas in an email:

“Year after year, the Mariners draw you in. They play OK, then better than OK, and then they implode with an inexplicable stretch of losing and ineptitude. It’s like that sweet, cute, fun girl from high school that used to talk to you. You would be study partners, you would walk home laughing and have a great time enjoying each others company. So naturally as a young man with hormones, you get drawn in and want more. So you fall for the girl and commit yourself fully and ask her on a date. She says: ‘Oh, I’m not the girl you think I am.’ She stays away. She doesn’t laugh anymore, and you’re walking home, alone. Any hope of a future of fun with that girl is gone and you’ve been suckered once more.”

Yikes! Is that what it is? Not wanting to dive in the Mariners’ pool for fear of what will happen next?

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Still hard to believe in Mariners despite their recent hot stretch