Mariners @ Red Sox series preview
In a season with many low points, this is the lowest the team has been. at 56-71 they are 15 games under .500, which is the most all season. Now the watch is on to see whether they will win as many games as the dead-man-walking 2012 team which lost 48 of their last 64 games, to end at 69-93. To break their current five game losing streak, they will have to outpitch the best pitching team in the majors, the Seattle Mariners. Boston is the last stop on a nine game road trip for the Mariners. They have split the first six games at Detroit and Philadelphia. Seattle is the last series of an 11 game home stand in which the Red Sox have gone 2-6.
The pitching matchups:
Friday: Felix Hernandez (13-4, 1.99) vs. Joe Kelly (0-1, 5.29), 7:10 p.m
Saturday: Chris Young (12-6, 3.07) vs. Brandon Workman (1-7, 4.26), 1:35 p.m.
Sunday: Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.57) vs. Allen Webster (3-1, 4.73), 1:35 p.m.
Dan Hughes, editor of the Seattle Mariners’ Fansided website SodoMojo.com weighed in about the Mariners.
BSI: While the Robinson Cano 10 year/ 240 million dollar deal looked like too much of a commitment at the time, he has a .332 batting average at the moment and has increased his OPS every month this season. If the Mariners make the playoffs this year, was the Cano deal a good one?
SM: I said at the beginning of the season that if the Mariners’ contract with Cano were to be considered successful, they would need to get a big return from him in the first half, to justify the last half. That being said, whether the Mariners make the playoffs or not this season, signing Cano was absolutely the best deal Jack Zduriencik has made in his tenure with this club.
But it goes far beyond his offensive and defensive contributions. He has really taken the reigns as the leader of this club. The way he went and put his arm around Felix Hernandez the other night when the umpire wasn’t giving him the calls was just the latest example of his leadership. To know that he needed to go talk to his ace, get him thinking about something else before Felix said or did something to get him tossed. Those are the little things that have been missing from this club and it’s just another reason why the deal makes sense.
BSI:Felix Hernandez has been all-world again this year, as expected, but the depth of the staff has kept them in the wild card chase. What has been the biggest surprise of the pitching staff this year?
SM: I’d have to say Chris Young. Here’s a guy who was cut by the Washington Nationals during Spring Training. When Jack Z picked him up, a lot of fans were thinking; “What is he doing?” But it has turned out to be the 2nd best move that Jack made this past offseason. He’s 12-6 with an ERA of 3.07. Who saw that coming? The 12 wins is a career high for him and he still has roughly seven starts remaining.
And what he’s done at Safeco (8-3, 2.35) is even more impressive. The Red Sox are fortunate they get him on their turf. He’s 4-3 with a 3.93 ERA away from Safeco this year. But, the Sox do have to face Felix, Young and Hisashi Iwakuma (who was moved up a day) in a row. They have the best ERA of any threesome in baseball
BSI: In our discussion of the Mariners playoff chances in June, you expressed doubt the team would get the necessary bat to lead them to the postseason. Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, and the re-acquired Kendrys Morales have not been productive. Who has been the most pleasant surprise on the offensive side of the ball that has spurred this late season surge to the top of the wild card standings?
SM: The acquisitions of Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia have been terrific. Jackson hasn’t hit much above his playing weight but it changes the look of the lineup and infused an energy that has been missing. As for Denorfia, it wasn’t a flashy pickup, but the guy has success against lefties and that’s what the M’s needed.
The biggest pickup has been from the farm. Shortstop Chris Taylor has all but replaced Brad Miller as the everyday shortstop. In his first 21 games he’s batting .344 with six doubles. If Dustin Ackley ends up faltering down the stretch, Lloyd McClendon could slide Taylor into the 2-hole behind Jackson and ahead of Cano.
In my opinion though, something needs to be done about the cleanup spot. Kendrys Morales shows signs of life one night, goes 0-for-4 the next. He really should be hitting 5th or even 6th with Kyle Seager batting 4th, at least for now.
BSI: Teams can still make deals though it is after July 31, though they have to pass them through waivers. Are there any hitters Mariners GM Jack Zdurencik has his eye on for the stretch run?
SM: I really don’t think you will see a move made by the Mariners before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline. They have Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias switching off, making starts for the club. They will get Michael Saunders back soon, that would be the equivalent of acquiring another stick. I think other than the September call-ups from the farm, what you see is what they will have down the stretch
Thanks to Dan Hughes for his insights. Dan can also be found on Twitter at @DEgan4Baseball.