The Mariners snapped a five-game losing streak this morning in Washington, but during the previous four games, they suffered the worst streak of beatdowns in franchise history. Can Scott Servais keep the team afloat?
The Mariners defeated the Nationals today in Washington to end a five-game losing streak, the last four games of which were the worst four-game stretch in Mariners history by run differential. The Mariners were outscored 39 to 4 in their four games before their 4-2 victory in DC this morning.
This historic stretch started with a 16-1 beatdown the day after I wrote Jerry Dipoto was a secret genius for stashing MLB-ready arms capable of lifting the team through a month of AAA pitching–the result of a rash of injuries to the starting rotation.
I was wrong. Predictably, I suppose, the Mariners’ pitching fell apart immediately after I wrote it could survive. And the offense went to sleep completely. Were it not for a Nelson Cruz three-run jack in the sixth inning today, the slide could have continued.
Manager Scott Servais stuck up for his players–in a way–by being awkwardly thrown out of today’s game* for arguing balls and strikes. But he’s going to have to do much more than that to spark this team through their tough, injury-riddled stretch.
It’s unfortunate that the Mariners play in the same division as the Astros, who sit, as of this writing, 10.5 games ahead of Seattle in the AL West, with an excellent 31-16 record. That AL West crown seems a long way off at this point.
But the season isn’t over yet. It’s late May, and there is plenty of baseball to be played. It’s natural to assume the Mariners will be better when at least some of their intended five-man rotation returns. They’ll have to play scorching-hot baseball when Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton return, but it’s possible.
It will be up to Servais to keep the Mariners treading water, especially on this road trip to Boston and then to Denver to face the NL West-leading Rockies (they figured out how to pitch at 5,280 ft. elevation, apparently). Now is the time when his true managing mettle will be tested. The jury is still out on whether Servais can handle the job. If not, expect changes this offseason, and a possible fire sale in late July.
*To be fair, Home Plate Umpire Adam Hamari’s strike zone was all over the place.