The Mariners finished off a tough road trip by losing two out of three to the Cleveland Indians. Despite the series loss, they finished the week an even 3-3 thanks to winning the series against the Detroit Tigers.
Given how this week started, a 3-3 record is not bad. The Mariners lost both Mitch Haniger and Felix Hernandez during Tuesday’s 19-9 massacre. Both are out for three to four weeks and are currently on the 10-day disabled list. This could not have come at a worse time for the M’s as they are still trying to claw back from their slow first few weeks.
Here is a look at the various elements of Mariners baseball this week.
The Mariners lineup averaged 4.8 runs per game this week, which is a tick behind where they have been lately. This is likely due to the massive hole Haniger and his hot bat left when he was put on the shelf.
Jean Segura has come back from the DL and has not skipped a beat. He hit .321 with a home run this week. Nelson Cruz has once again declared he is out of his slump and in mid-season form. This week he hit .471 and blasted four home runs with a whopping 1.658 OPS. The pleasant surprise in the lineup was Guillermo Heredia filling Haniger’s void and hitting .391 with a home run in the six games.
Robinson Cano has dipped back down a bit, hitting just .200 in the series against Detroit and Cleveland. Mike Zunino is still struggling mightly, hitting .172, has gone hit-less in three games, and has not had an extra base hit since April 20th. Taylor Motter has also cooled off, hitting just .150 with one RBI in his last six games.
The pitching staff as a whole this week had a 5.83 ERA. That is not good. The only reason this grade is not a failing one is the fact that James Paxton has continued to deal. In Wednesday’s 8-0 win over the Tigers, Paxton pitched seven shutout innings while striking out nine and walking just one. He lowered his ERA to 1.39.
Sandwiched between two awful games to start the series in Detroit and final game of the series in Cleveland Sunday, the pitching staff actually was solid. It’s hard to ignore the 19-run debacle on Tuesday and allowing the Indians to score 12 on Sunday, however. Before leaving with a “dead arm,” Felix only lasted two innings, allowing four runs on six hits. Evan Marshall let things get out of hand with an egregious outing of seven earned runs and three walks in just two innings.
On a positive note, Edwin Diaz was finally able to lock down more saves. He notched a save two games in a row, mowing down the Tigers on Thursday and plowing right through the Indians on Friday.
The starting rotation is now down two starters of their original rotation, with Drew Smyly also still hurt. Chase De Jong started for Felix on Sunday and couldn’t get past the third inning, allowing six runs.
The Mariners committed four errors leading to two unearned runs this week. Granted they had Taylor Motter playing an unfamiliar first base. Although he did made a great catch to seal the win on Friday in the stands. Despite the number of errors, the Mariners did move up from -2 Defensive Runs Saved to -1, meaning the Mariners defense saved one more run than they gave up this week.
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I can’t dock the Mariners for injuries. Those happen to every team and it is mostly uncontrollable. But it seems to be piling on the Mariners when they need to be at their best. If they have visions of pulling out of this hole and making a playoff run, they need to get healthy quickly. They cannot afford another injury to a member of the starting lineup, especially the rotation.
The pitching was bad at times and at others the bats were lifeless when they were needed most. All in all, winning a series on the road seemed to point the Mariners in the right direction. They just got done playing perhaps the best overall team in the American League in the Indians. They do not have to see them again until the last home series of the season.
They are only three games below .500 and 5 1/2 games back in the AL West. May has started and that means it is no longer “early” or “just getting started.” The time to start climbing is now.