Devil Rays series only magnifies Mariners' problems

A lot of Mariners fans probably are going to feel pretty good about this Devil Rays series, Wednesday afternoon shutout notwithstanding.

I won't be one of them.

Yes, the M's won the series 2-1. The pitching was outstanding -- including the return of King Felix -- and was culminated by Jamie Moyer pitching eight innings of one-run ball on Wednesday. Even Eddie Guardado worked his second consecutive scoreless inning! Offensively, they scored 14 runs on 24 hits in the first two games, getting the clutch base hits they'd been lacking all season long.

And therein lies the problem.

Don't be fooled by those that would lead you to believe that this was some kind of "offensive explosion." It wasn't. In those two games, the Mariners had exactly one extra-base hit. ONE! Out of 24 hits, 23 were singles. It's almost mind-boggling to consider. (The one extra-base hit? A solo homer by Carl Everett.) A Major League Baseball team simply cannot win consistently if it needs 24 hits to score 14 runs.

Need examples? Consider this game: Yesterday, the Red Sox whalloped the Yankees 14-3. In scoring their 14 runs, the Red Sox needed only 16 hits. Five of them went for extra bases -- three doubles and two homers -- and it was done against Randy Johnson and one of the better bullpens in baseball. Or how about this one: The Twins beat up on the Rangers 15-5, scoring thoe runs on 19 hits. They had eight extra base hits, leaving 10 guys on base in the process.

Yes, the Mariners do a decent job of making up for that with the way they run -- stealing, taking extra bases, etc. -- and the young guys, specifically Jose Lopez, have been a very pleasant surprise. But the bottom line is that it just won't be enough to make up for the aboslute power outage in the middle of the order.

If you're still encouraged by Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday should have driven home the point home for you: How different would that game have been with just a single and a home run? It's the difference between a win and a loss, because that's how you get to a guy who's got his best stuff. The Mariners never were going to get to Kazmir with a four- or five-hit rally in that game -- he's simply not going to miss with that many pitches when he's on. A single, a walk, an error ... and a bomb. I'm not saying you rely on it -- we all know how that worked for most of the '90s -- but you've still got to get one once in a while.

It cost us in the playoffs in 2001, and it will continue to cost us now.

The Mariners front office, Hargrove, and even some of the players will tell you that the team is close, that they just need to put it all together. But the reality is they're only waiting on one thing from three guys. Until Richie Sexson, Everett and Adrian Beltre start doing what they're being paid to do -- hitting some homers (or at least some doubles) -- the Mariners will be what they've been for three years: A bad team that will struggle to score many runs on its way to 90 losses.


Thayer said...

Jeez, out of the frying pan and into the fire. I left Kansas to get away from a shoddy baseball team and landed in Washington.
Needless to say, Mariners and Royals fans would agree that their hopes are doomed to be dashed. If the Mariners end up with a .500 record when it's all said and done, I'd suggest stocking up on bottled water and canned food because the apocolypse would surely be upon us.

Matt said...

Hey Nuss -- yeah, I have one of those new fangled blog accounts too. You should check out my blog sometime!


The Nuss said...

No doubt, Thayer. Although, I'd venture to say KC is in a bit worse shape than the Mariners -- all those years in the cellar of the AL Central and they have no real talent to speak of.

That's not small-market challenges ... that's just terrible management of a franchise. Other small-market franchises such as Minnesota and Oakland have figured out ways to win in that time, yet the Royals continue to flounder. Tony Pena picked the right time to get out.

I feel bad for Royals fans. They deserve better.

Ashlee said...

Id love to give an "intelligent sports related comment" like you said, but I think this is going to be the extent of it. I dont like the Mariners.. Because the little amount of baseball knowledge that I do have tells me that they kinda suck. See you tomorrow!

Erik said...

Thanks for the invite, ill enjoy keeping up with your posts. As for the Mariners, I dont know if anyone is excited to see them score runs against the Devil Rays, cause look what happened when they faced their only good pitcher (outside of Mt Vernon Grad Mark Hendrickson). We will take the wins though, as that is what mattered, and if the West in the AL can turn out like the West in the NL last year, we might have a reason to watch the M's this summer. Remember we were much more than 4 out in 95! Go M's.

Crimsongreyday said...

Good stuff Nuss! Its good to hear about the M's since I pretty much hear about NO west coast teams (except USC football) on the east coast.

The Nuss said...

The key is, can their pitching keep doing what it's doing? After Piniero's performance last night, one has to wonder how long their pitching staff can wait for the offense to catch up. I mean, is it only a matter of time before Meche and Piniero remember that they're not very good pitchers? Or was last night an aberration?

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