What We Learned: Seattle Mariners Vs. Houston Astros April 4th
The Mariners suffered another defeat to the Houston Astros today, this time by a closer margin of just one. The M’s had many opportunities to tie it up or take the lead, but in the end, they left Hishahi Iwakuma with the loss after a 2-1 conclusion to the ballgame despite his first quality start of the season.
Mariners baseball has not put many smiles on the faces of the fans. Whether it’s the lack of power (no home runs), the lack of aggressiveness on the basepaths (no steals) or the lack of wins (zero in two chances), this team has let down their hometown faithful in a big way.
This highly anticipated team has seen its four major players, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager combine for zero runs scored, zero RBIs, zero home runs, and stolen bases. They also have averages of .268, .222, .000, and .200 respectively. That’s not what anyone in the organization is looking for.
The Astros pitching has been tough; both of their pitchers have had quality starts, but shouldn’t have stopped this team from scoring more than one run.
There are still two games left in this season-opening four game series, so a split is still in the cards., the M’s will just need to do some voodoo to get out of this horrific funk that has the team in the cellar for offense statistics.
Other than watching the team get dismantled for a second straight day, here’s what we learned watching tonight’s duel against the Astros.
Mariners Feeling Stranded?
The Mariners offense has had some serious trouble getting started this season. Yesterday they only had three hits and left four runners in scoring position. Today they produced a little more pop but struggled just as much to make anything of the eight RISP.
Altogether, the M’s have gone 1-14 with RISP, good for a percentage of .071.
Today, Cruz took the cake for leaving men on base. In each of his first three plate appearances, he left a man on. He stranded Cano on second in the 1st after he hit the team’s first double of the year, he left Mitch Haniger on third when he struck out with one out in the 4th, and in the 5th he left Hainger on second base again when he grounded into the fielder’s choice.
In the 9th, with Jarrod Dyson on second base with one out, Jean Segura groundout out and then Haniger struck out on a check swing to end the game.
During the spring the Mariners were leaving 20+ runners on base (both in scoring position and not) on a regular basis, but they were still scoring runs. They drove in the 6th-most runs with 190 and scored 5th-most with 207.
For the Mariners to even come close to those numbers they’re going to need to put more runners on base -they’ve combined for nine hits and drawn six walks in two games- and they’ll need to start bringing them home like they did all last year.
Last season the M’s batted .258 with RISP which ranked them in the middle of the pack at 15th in the league.
Going It Solo
It’s hard to see the Mariners down with an 0-2 record seeing how good Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma were… and that bullpen, but it’s the case regardless.
Over 16 innings pitched, the team has only allowed five runs. Amazingly four of those have come off of solo home runs (two today and two yesterday).
Last night one homer actually left the ballpark and the other nearly so. Today, the homers didn’t go as far, but they were definitely no doubters.
Both shots went a couple rows deep over the high-walled scoreboard in left field. The first was from one of the newer Astros, Brian McCan, that came in the 3rd inning. The next one came from Marwin Gonzalez in the 6th.
The solo shots put a damper on Iwakuma’s first start of the season but also highlighted a problem he had last year. In 2016, Iwakuma surrendered 28 HRs allowed which was the most on the M’s last season. It was also the 16th-most allowed in all of baseball.
Hernandez only gave up 19 HRs last year. Now that he’s allowed two in his first start of the campaign, he’s on track to give up over 60. Let’s hope that pace doesn’t stick.
In the ever-changing MLB, one of the newest implemented rules to speed up gameplay is to have pitchers now signal to the home plate umpire that he wants to intentionally walk the batter. He would do this by simply putting up four fingers (it shouldn’t matter which ones)
He would do this by simply putting up four fingers (it shouldn’t matter which ones as long as they’re on the same hand) instead of lobbing four pitches off the plate.
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This saves the game maybe about a minute for each intentional walk. The only thing is that the Mariners have averaged about .233 intentional walks per game.
They are becoming so uncommon that even the New York Times wrote a piece in 2014 discussing the possibility that there may soon be no more intentional walks the way things are headed. According to their research, in 2014 the league average for intentional walks was .222, the lowest it’s ever been since the stat was introduced in 1955.
Never the less, it was a cool sight (albeit for five seconds) to see this new rule in play. Seager was the beneficiary of the intentional walk in the top of the 4th.
It didn’t end up hurting Astros pitcher, Lance McCullers Jr., although he did allow a single to Danny Valencia for the Mariners 1st RBI of the year on the next at-bat. Seager wouldn’t get further than second base.
Next: Can Iwakuma Stay Healthy All Season Long Again?
Now that Mariners fans have seen this in action, not sure it’ll be so enthralling the next several times it happens. The only question will be how much time it ends up saving when the season comes to an end.
The Mariners will look not to lose the opening series as James Paxton takes the mound at 5:10 PM PST for his first start of the season.