One of baseball’s more unusual statistical stories this season comes from the Pacific Northwest.
At 37-43, the Mariners are in last place in the American League West, and it’s mainly due to an abysmal home record (17-27). The road mark isn’t a lot better (20-26) as Seattle travels to Kauffman Stadium to open a four-game series tonight. The weird thing is Seattle is second in the American League in runs scored on the road at 220 (4.78 per game). At home, the Mariners have managed just 126 runs (2.86), the fewest in baseball.
Despite the team’s struggles, it didn’t make any moves during the All-Star break.
"Let's see how they come out of the break with having a few days off and getting away from it," manager Eric Wedge told the Seattle Times. "You've got a team out there that, they care about the right things, they work hard, they care about each other and about the game.
"One thing we have to do is get them in a better position where they can come out and perform."
The Mariners lost two of three over the weekend at home to the Rangers.
Starting tonight is Jason Vargas, who is 8-7 with a 4.07 ERA. He hasn’t pitched since before the All-Star break when he threw a seven-hitter, allowing one run at Oakland. Rumor has it that Vargas may be the subject of trade talks.
Tonight’s start could boost his value. Since joining the Mariners in 2009, he is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings pitched against the Royals. Billy Butler (one homer) and Jeff Francoeur (two RBIs) each are four for eight against Vargas.
Tuesday’s starter has not been announced, but on Wednesday, Kevin Millwood will get the start. He is 3-7 with a 3.71 ERA. Since moving to the American League in 2005, Millwood is 6-5 against the Royals with a 4.39 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 92.1 innings pitched.
Chris Getz (four for nine) has had the best success against Millwood, but Alex Gordon has hit two homers against him. Thursday’s starter is Felix Hernandez, who is 7-5 with a 2.92 ERA. He has allowed one or fewer runs 11 times this year. He is 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA in his career against the Royals.
At the dish, first baseman Justin Smoak leads the team in home runs with 11, but he is batting just .199 overall. Third baseman Kyle Seager is hitting .245 with 10 homers and a team-high 54 RBIs. Catcher John Jaso is batting .281 with an .846 OPS.
Over the past five seasons, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has batted .357 against Wednesday’s starter Bruce Chen and Suzuki is hitting .417 with two homers against Thursday’s starter Luke Hochevar.
| Pete Grathoff, firstname.lastname@example.org