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Sam Barbee
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Mariners return to true form

04/24/2014 12:52am
last edited:04/24/2014 4:29pm

What a difference 20 days make. Back then, I wrote a take about the Mariners sitting at a nice, but early, 5-2 mark and held sole possession of first place. 

How far away that feels now. 

Twenty days later and the Mariners have fallen to 8-13, from first place in the American League West to fourth. They were swept in Miami and lost two of three to Houston to start this week. 

They aren't exactly healthy, though. Logan Morrison is on the 15-day DL with a hamstring issue and two of the M's top pitching prospects are on the shelf as well. Cy Young runner-up Hisashi Iwakuma is throwing simulated games, but he's still at least a week or two from getting his first start.

But injuries aren't the biggest issue.

When Seattle swept the L.A. Angels of Anaheim (for God's sake, just call them the Anaheim Angels) to start the season, the Mariners were playing truly splendid baseball: The starters were going six or seven innings and limiting the opposition to three or fewer runs and the offense was producing four to five runs on timely hitting, especially with two outs. There was a feelings of excitement from the manager and the players and things finally seemed to be changing at Safeco Field.

Then they came home and promptly lost or split each series since. The reliable starting pitching disappeared. Erasmo Ramirez, who was lights-out against L.A. in his season debut -- has struggled to throw strikes and is getting knocked around as a result. Call-up Brandon Maurer has been on a strict pitch count and hasn't been able to last even into the fifth inning. Veteran Chris Young also looked solid in his first outing of the season but also has struggled to keep his pitch count down and his inning count up. The only semi-reliable starter is Felix, who was beat up for a couple dingers against Houston on Tuesday.

The result? An over-taxed bullpen that can't hold leads because they're pitching 15 innings per series instead of nine.

Combine those pitching issues with an absolutely anemic (as much as it kills me to use that word) and the Mariners are destined to lose more games than they win.

But there was a spark today. Kyle Seager hit two homers, one a walk-off three-run job off Astros closer Josh Fields to end the M's 8-game losing streak. Chris Young threw well enough to keep Seattle in the game and the bullpen did its job to keep Houston off the board in the final one-third of the game. 

There is both good and bad news with this win.

Bad news first.

The bad news is that Seattle is currently 1-5 against last-place teams. The good news is that now the players have something to feel good about. Winning on a walk-off carries a good feeling with it, and when it ends a losing streak it feels even better. The thing to watch with this team now is if they can capitalize on that positive emotion.

They'll have to. Their next six games are against first-place opponents: Texas in Seattle and the Yankees in New York. It could be a long week or it could be a fun one. 

1 comments

Wade Geraci
Posts: 50
Takes score: 2393
Picks: 48.1%
04/26/2014 3:44am
That's the brutally beautiful thing about baseball... teams typically has plenty of time to return to form, whether it be up or down.

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