The 12th Man was nowhere to be found in The Emerald City on Monday night. That is mostly because there is no Monday Night Football right now, and the Seattle Seahawks front office is busy preparing for the 2014 NFL Draft this offseason.
However, there certainly was not a lot to cheer about at Safeco Field Monday night, either. In fact, the boo birds were out in full force.
After a hot start to 2014, the Seattle Mariners have come back down to earth over the last week. Going 1-6 on their recent road trip to visit the Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins, the Mariners hit a paltry .207 as a team across that span.
The lone bright spot on offense for the Mariners during their road trip was Dustin Ackley, who has hit .345 over his last eight games heading into tonight’s contest against the Houston Astros. He was finally rewarded for his efforts by being moved to second in the batting order as the Mariners kicked off their three-game homestand against the Astros. But Ackley went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and the team struck out 13 times total in their 7-2 loss.
On a night when Felix Hernandez should have continued his 2014 dominance, he struggled — ironically against what many people view to be the thinnest lineup in MLB. If it weren’t for a rough sixth inning that was made up of four unearned runs, Hernandez might have been able to keep his team in the ballgame heading into the eighth frame.
The problem, despite all the injuries to the rotation, is not the pitching. The Mariners’ issue is they cannot hit. Plain and simple. The team does a poor job at manufacturing runs, whether by hitting for power or playing small ball. They are 23rd in league slugging percentage, 28th in hits and tied for second-to-last in stolen bases with five. This means they are doing a terrible job of turning singles into RBI opportunities by moving runners into scoring position.
No one considered an everyday player on the club is hitting over .281. They are third worst in the league with a .225 team AVG, and tonight they lost to the last ranked team in the league in that category in the Astros, who sport a .192 AVG. This should not have happened, especially when the Mariners had their ace Hernandez go against Dallas Keuchel.
Mariners’ bats made Keuchel look like Nolan Ryan with an “H” on his hat tonight. The season is still young, but the seven-game losing streak the Mariners are currently on needs to be snapped in a hurry if Lloyd McClendon hopes to salvage this season. Getting swept by division rivals the Astros would be a low point for his team in 2014, and the morale in the locker room could begin to decay at a rapid rate until some of the big pitching arms get healthy for the Mariners.
$240 million man Robinson Cano lacks a strong supporting cast. The team cannot become complacent at the plate, even when King Felix takes the ball for them. Ackley needs to continue to play well and live up to his once promising potential. A late developer is better than a bust. Corey Hart needs to continue to hit for consistent power behind those two, because it is evident that Justin Smoak is a very streaky player and he cannot be relied upon to produce at high level consistently.
Yes, the Mariners need their pitching to get healthy. But good baseball teams find ways to adapt throughout the season and fight for wins. Until the Mariners’ disabled list shrinks in size and names, the fight won’t be an easy one. Though it is a necessary one.