Following another ugly loss yesterday, the Mariners finally return home from a road trip that manager John McLaren said caused him to eat a "razor-blade sandwich" for dinner on Saturday night. It's perhaps fitting that the M's kickoff a seven-game homestand with a series against the team with which they now share the American League's worst record --- the Texas Rangers. As the team continues to falter, much of the goodwill that was built during last year's surprising run to playoff contention fades away.
Offensively, the Mariners' struggles can largely be tied to a falling team on-base percentage, which now ranks 13th out of 14 AL teams at a paltry .311. Only Adrian Beltre ranks among the top 40 in the league in OBP, and the now designated-for-assignment Brad Wilkerson is actually second on the team in that category. These numbers are largely affected, though, by the free-swinging Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt, who have walked a combined six times in nearly 250 plate appearances. There's something to be said for putting the bat on the ball, at which the M's are the best in baseball (an MLB-low 155 strikeouts, and that includes Richie Sexson!), but a little plate discipline can go a long way when trying to break out of a slump. Last year, all four AL playoff teams ranked in the top five in the league in OBP, and the M's were a respectable seventh.
The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker says that the Mariners are just glad to be getting back home, and points out that the M's are an alarming 0-14 in games in which they trail by two or more runs at any point.
The Times' Steve Kelley thinks everyone should
lay off John McLaren and places the blame on the players.
Around the minors:
Mired in a 1-4 homestand, Tacoma (15-14, 9.5 GB in PCL North) rebounded with a 10-4 shellacking of Oklahoma as the entire team wore pink jerseys (it was for a charitable cause, not some form of punishment, lest any of you think about suggesting this to John McLaren to fire up his squad). Bryan LaHair was the standout in a 16-hit performance, going 3-for-5 with a home run and a triple. Tug Hulett homered, and Charlton Jimerson was 3-for-4 on the evening. Sean White got the win, while Philip Barzilla and Eric O'Flaherty each tossed two no-hit innings. Grant Clark of the News Tribune has
the complete story.
West Tenn (20-10, T-1st in SOU North) had a Sunday off-day yesterday to travel home after winning eight of 10 on the road against East Tennessee and Carolina. First-basemen Marshall Hubbard leads the Southern League in OBP at .463, and is slugging .600. The Jaxx are also getting big offensive contributions from Luis Valbuena and Michael Saunders. The Jackson Sun's Brandon Shields has the story about
West Tenn's surge to the top of the standings.
High Desert (15-16, 2.0 GB in CAL South) came up short against division-leading Lake Elsinore on Sunday, dropping a 13-11 slugfest. The Mavericks led 11-7 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but Joe Kantakevich surrendered five runs without recording an out to take the loss. Starter Kyle Parker allowed two earned runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. Carlos Triunfel showed signs of breaking out of a season-long slump, going 4-for-5 with three doubles.
Wisconsin (10-16, 10.0 GB in MID Western) dropped a 4-2 decision at Great Lakes in the opener of a three-game set. Joseph Dunigan had four hits for the Rattlers, but the rest of the offense could only muster five more hits. Starting pitcher Juan Ramirez took the loss, surrendering all four runs but striking out nine in 6 1/3 innings. The Appleton Post-Crescent has the