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Last-place Mariners continue descent into bottomless pit

The Mariners ended their latest road trip with a whimper today, spoiling a decent start from Mike Leake by failing to hit baseballs against the Oakland A's. Though they fell behind early on a couple of Oakland home runs, the game was close for most of it, with a score of 3-1 in the top of the seventh inning before the bullpen let it get away; it's just that the Mariners can't score runs without hitting balls over the fence.

Seattle did not win a single game on this road swing to Dallas-Ft. Worth and Oakland, stretching their losing steak to six games and running their record for the month of May to 5-13.

All three games in this series in Oakland started poorly, with each Seattle starting pitcher giving up runs early. Even so, a better team could have been more competitive in each of them. The M's once again could do next-to-nothing with runners on base, leaving 26 aboard (including 15 in the first game alone). They struck out with runners on 13 times. They did hit four more home runs—all solo shots—but fat lot of good it did them.

Some of the losses the Mariners have run into were unavoidable. As the adage goes, you're going to win 54 games and you're going to lose 54 games—it's what you do with the other 54 games that counts. All three of these games fall into that "other 54" bucket. All three games in the previous series fall into that bucket. The M's are drowning in that bucket.

It isn't helping that Scott Servais is continuing to use Mitch Haniger, the league leader in strikeouts, as his leadoff man. To be fair, the lineup structure has otherwise improved of late—Domingo Santana's free-swinging is no longer following Haniger—but a 65 K batter in the first position is just asking for trouble. This is a lineup that is already prone to failure and you give it an extra handicap before a pitch is even thrown? Come on, Servais.

If there are any bright spots to this series, they might be these:

  • Domingo Santana's success in the middle of the order, where he belongs. Batting 5th and 4th this series, he was 6-for-13 with a double and two homers. Only three RBI for all that, but he does have 41 for the year, good enough for fourth in the league.
  • JP Crawford's continued development. Over his last ten games (since 5/16), JP has batted .286/.359/.515. He has struck out much too often (15 times in 39 PAs), a common ailment with this team, but that .359 OBP is encouraging.
  • Infield defense. The overall error count continues to climb (thanks, Domingo), but with Kyle Seager's return to action, routine(ish) grounders no longer feel like an adventure.
  • Jay Bruce's mini-hot streak. Playing just his fifth game in 12 days, Bruce in that span has put up a line of .368/.350/.579. Small sample, to be sure, but a bright spot nonetheless.

Next up, the Mariners return home for a rematch with the Texas Rangers, a team that shouldn't be over .500 but is. Maybe because they've played the M's seven times already.

Mariners vs. Athletics, by the numbers

  • Total runs scored: 27 (SEA 8, OAK 19)
  • Home runs hit: 10 (SEA 4, OAK 6)
  • Bases stolen/attempts: 5/5 (SEA - Shed Long, OAK 4)
  • Errors committed: 3 (SEA 3 - Santana, Narváez, Elías)
  • Quality starts: 2 (OAK - Fiers, Anderson)
  • Pitching changes: 18 (SEA 8, OAK 10)
  • Starters ERA: 5.17 (SEA 7.80, OAK 2.76)
  • Bullpen ERA: 2.75 (SEA 3.00, OAK 2.53)
  • Runners left on base: 40 (SEA 26, OAK 14)

 

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