Well…I was going to write my next Mariners blog giving you my impression of things two weeks into this young season. But watching Felix Hernandez pitch tonight against the Tigers has changed things. Across 8 innings thus far against the best hitting team in the American League King Felix has given up four hits and one measly unearned run while walking none and striking out 12. Tonight we have been treated to vintage Felix. Unfortunately we have also been treated to the typical Mariner offensive performance whenever Felix pitches. That offense through 8 innings consists of 6 hits, 1 run and couple of walks. And when I say typical I do mean typical. Through the ten previous consecutive Felix starts the Mariners have generated a total of something like 21 runs in support of him, an average of about 2 runs per nine innings. The Mariners offensive struggles over the last few seasons are well known but when Felix pitches they take on legendary proportions. As I write this piece the Mariners are hitting in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 1-1. Felix did not pitch the top of the ninth so is in line for another no decision in this game. Kendrys Morales led off the inning with a clean single and Mike Morse walked putting men on first and second with no one out. Raul Ibanezstepped up and promptly ripped the guts out of the budding rally by hitting into a double play. With 2 outs and the winning run parked at third Justin Smoak then struck out. The game is now moving into extra innings.

Felix Hernandez

Since we are on the subject of the Mariners offense let us take a look at how it is faring so far this season. The Mariners thus far rank 16th in runs scored, are a paltry 27th (of 30 teams) in team batting average (.219) and 26th in on base percentage (.285). With stats like that it is not surprising that the M’s are already 3 games under .500 and 5 games out of first in the AL West. As far as individual players are concerned Dustin Ackley stands out as the most beleaguered. He is something like 5 for 47 on the season and seems to have forgotten how to hit. He either gets it going soon or he will have to be sent down to get straight in the minors. Justin Smoakis barely hitting .200 with no homers and Brendan Ryan, after a decent start the first week of the season, has now reverted to his .190 batting average form from last season. Though hitting a bit better average wise Jesus Montero is still sub .250 and also has no homers. Ditto Kyle Seager. The Mariner hitters showing promise thus far are Michael Morse with his 6 home runs and a .290 average, Franklin Gutierrez and Kendrys Morales. Michael Saunders was also coming on until he tried to occupy the same space as the right field wall last week and sprained his shoulder.

Franklin Gutierrez

You may recall during the off season when the Mariners announced they were bringing the fences in at Safeco that I said it would do no good. Most of the Mariner hitters so far this season are proving me correct with their futility. Whatever the M’s hitters were doing this spring in the dry Arizona air when they led the Cactus League in home runs seems to have been left in the desert when the team came north to start the season. And by the way, tonight’s game is now in the top of the 12th inning and is still tied at 1-1. The Mariners have already blown several scoring opportunities during the extra frames. We’ll see how it turns out.
The simple truth about the Mariners is that they will go nowhere until they as a team acquire the plate discipline necessary to get good pitches to hit, not swing at the bad ones and instead be willing to take their base if necessary.  Baseball at the Major League level is a hard game and I know that it is tough to do that. But the Tigers as a team do it. All but 3 of their position players have on base percentages above .300 and as a team they were hitting .305 going into tonight’s game; a figure which is higher than any individual Mariner player. Based on the stats I presented above twenty five Major League teams get on base better than the Ms. When that condition starts to change for the better so will the lot of the Mariners. It’s not rocket science.

Miguel Cabrera

And now sports fans…back to the game. It’s the top of the thirteenth inning at Safeco with the Mariners and Tigers deadlocked in a 1-1 tie. The Tigers have Torii Hunter at first with 1 out and last year’s American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera at the plate….anyone want to bet on who will win this thing? Wait a minute…Charlie Furbush just struck Cabrera out….Damn…I’ve got to go watch this…will let you know who won tomorrow!

Copyright©2013 by Mark Arnold

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2 Responses to Felix Masterful–M’s Offense Disasterful–My Take on the Seattle Mariners Two Weeks In— by Mark Arnold

  1. Brother!!!! It ended up a 2-1 loss….. It’s time we showed signs of positive change. By the end of April we MUST show signs of rounding in to major league hitting form or this could be a long season.

    • Mark Arnold says:

      Steve, Yes, I will give it a couple weeks but already I am sensing that Ackley will be sent down, Ryan will be benched or maybe even released. They must get Mike Zunino up from Tacoma and must make room for him. To replace Ryan I would look at Nick Franklin also at tacoma. Very clost to being time to make moves or as you say, it will be a long season…MA

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