During the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, the Seattle Mariners were able to improve over the 2013 season’s win total by 16 games, finishing with 87 wins. During that season, the pitching staff only gave up a combined 3.16 runs per game. That stat made them one of the best starting rotations, and bullpens in the majors. The problem for the Mariners in 2014 was the lack of offense. The offense was only putting up 3.9 runs per game. With the pitching still intact, and the added offense, the expectations were high. At just past the ten percent mark of the season, the Mariners are faced with the unique struggle of an offense that can not get support from it’s pitching staff.
Through 19 games the Mariners starting pitchers and bullpen have given up an average of 9.15 runs per game. 9.15 runs per game is almost 3 times more than they were giving up last year. Meanwhile, with the addition of Nelson Cruz, and the maturity of Kyle Seager, and the comfort of Robinson Cano, the offense has been putting up 3.88 runs per game. The 3.88 is a slight improvement from last season’s numbers.
Cruz is leading the Majors with 9 home runs in the month of April, Cano is batting .307 and the team has been close in almost every game. During the 2014 season the Mariners lost more games by less than 2 runs than any other team. This season they have given up leads of more than 3 runs more than any team in the league.
Entering last night’s game against the Texas Rangers, Felix Hernandez and J.A. Happ were combined for a 3-1 record. The rest of the team was 3-9. Hernandez, “King Felix,” as he is known by fans has been nothing short of amazing in the month of April. The King put up 10 strike outs on his first game, was taken out early due to injury his second start, 12 strike outs the third, and pitched a complete game 10 strike out shut out in his last.
The addition of Happ to the line up has proved to be a good move as he has been solid in his starts for the team. Taijuan Walker was horrendous in his first starts, but gave a strong outing for his first win in Texas on Monday. The Mariners number 2 pitchers, Hisashi Iwakuma has already been placed on the injured list for a lat strain after three poor outings to the mound.
Sitting with a record of 8-11 the Mariners are in third place in the American League West division. After ending their nine game home stand with a record of 4-5, they are now on the road for the next 10 games. The Mariners start out with a three game series against the Rangers, they head to Houston for a four game stand. Then it is on to face the Los Angeles Angles for three games before finally heading back to Seattle and Safeco Field on Friday May 8.
The Mariners are not off to the start that many fans had hoped for, and with so many late leads given up and extra innings; to watch, has been down right heartbreaking in the early goings. The pitching being off point is a unique struggle the are facing. However, with 143 games left to play, there is still a lot of Baseball to be played. There will be win streaks and losing streaks, home runs and shut outs. With five months to go until the post season, it is time to get out the barbeques, mow the lawn and dust off the old glove, and enjoy baseball season for the marathon that it is.
Commentary by Andy Mack