Mariners Report: Houston…we have a problem edition!

M’s outscored 24-15 in 3-game series with Stros

Houston 8, Seattle 3
When: 10:10 PM ET, Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Where: Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
Temperature: 56°
Umpires: Home – Wally Bell, 1B – Larry Vanover, 2B – Tony Randazzo, 3B – Manny Gonzalez
Attendance: 10493

Concern over outcome this early in a baseball season is usually because of overreactions, poor perspective, and team insecurities.

Although the Seattle Mariners have little reason to hit the panic button, there are some major problems that get magnified against as poor as the Houston Astros. No offense to Houston and all, but they are in a rebuilding year as the M’s were in 2009, not a team that should 8 HR’s in two games against Seattle.

Losing Michael Saunders to a DL-stint hurts the offense, but the problems for the M’s start and end on the mound.

Every starter in the Astros’ lineup had a hit last night, 15 in all.

Here is the love and hate from Wednesday’s game.

Love ‘em

1. Kelly Shoppach

A home run early and nearly a second that ended up being a double, Shoppach was the majority of the Mariners offense last night. Jesus Montero has only one more hit on the season (4) than Shoppach got last night (3). Expect Montero’s “rest” to come a little more while Shopach is hot at the plate, hopefully that gives the kid time to get back in the mix.

2. Strikeout rate

Despite being massacred the last two games, the Mariners offense has put the ball in play, and their strikeout-to-walk rate is 1. It has been even and the team is giving themselves better opportunities to score by putting the ball in play more consistently. Something that has been a struggle in past seasons.


Losing Michael Saunders to a DL-stint hurts the offense

3. Mike Zunino is amazing

Our own Jonathan Irwin wrote an article on Zunino’s future, but when the Mariners are getting slammed by the LASTros, it is great to see AAA numbers like this.

.385 BA, 4 HR, 17 RBI in 6 games

Hate ‘em

1. Starting Pitching

Every pitcher should be evaluated over time, perhaps every month within a season, but it is hard to avoid that when Brandon Maurer didn’t make it out of the 1st inning and last night Blake Beavan yielded 5 runs (4 earned) before the 6th inning, it puts the bullpen and the offense in bad positions playing with different mindsets.

The M’s might have a serious problem if Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are the only consistent productive starting pitchers. Maurer and Beavan deserve the opportunity, but expect short leashes for both until they prove themselves.

2. Long Relief

In what became a position of strength for the M’s a year ago with Charlie Furbush and Oliver Perez leading the way, has turned its ugly head via a terrible Astros lineup hitting home run after home run off of them. Furbush was the culprit on Tuesday, and young Carter Capps decided to join the hit parade last night. 2 HR’s in less than 2 innings of work will kill a team’s rally cry really quick.

3. Seager, Smoak, Ackley

C’mon boys! Put your big boy pants on and let’s get going! Dustin Ackley has been a hitter throughout his life, but he may have to relearn how to do that in AAA. Kyle Seager is the only one of these three that looks to be more in a slump than a downward trend, and he will receive the longest amount of time to get it right.

Then there is Justin Smoak. He did it again, after a scorching-hot September, Smoak tricked us into believing he had changed. He made us believe that this offseason he had figured it out and followed that up with fantastic Spring Training numbers.

Smoak is batting .156 and is slugging .156.

No typo, all 5 of his hits are singles, with Zunino playing the way he is in AAA and Kendrys Morales producing at the plate and able to play 1B, Smoak needs to get rolling.

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