Mariners vs. Nationals: M’s Offense Lets Down Pitching
Stellar starts from Robbie Ray and George Kirby were overshadowed by some weak performances by the Mariners offense as they split the series with the Nationals.
The opening game of the series, even though the Mariners won, was disappointing from an offensive standpoint. They scored four runs on a pair of two-run home runs from Mitch Haniger and Eugenio Suarez. Both home run were preceded by singles from Jesse Winker and Carlos Santana to get a runner on with the Mariners best home run hitters up to bat. That is textbook offense and how the Mariners are sixth in the American League in home runs.
Unfortunately, that was about the extent of the Mariners offense in this series
The problem is that the Mariners generally can’t spread out their offense past a few innings. They will score runs in bunches for an inning or two in the ballgame and then the offense will become dormant. Outside of the two innings in which the M’s scored runs, they had one hit in six innings of offense. They also did get two base runners courtesy of walks but that is not enough and the offense came up even smaller in game two.
Seattle could have won this game, it was extremely winnable.
Julio Rodriguez hit a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. After a Winker walk, Haniger almost hit a two-run home run in the eighth which could have given them a two-run cushion going into the ninth.
Cal Raleigh also almost had a three-run home run which would have given them a walk-off win after Paul Sewald gave up a two-out, two-strike two-run home run in the top of the inning. Both almost home runs were caught on the warning track by Nationals center fielder Victor Robles.
The offense had three hits in the first seven innings. That is pathetic.
Obviously, you can’t give up a two-run shot in the ninth in a tied game. And Sewald did not have hit best series, giving up two home runs and three earned runs off of those in the two-game series. So that can’t happen and he deserves plenty of blame. But offensively you have to do better than five runs in games where the Nationals starters went just over nine innings combined.
The Nats starter for game two, Anibal Sanchez, only threw 46 strikes in 81 pitches and the Mariners didn’t score a single run off of him. They were also 0-3 with runners in scoring position in game two.
In game one Robbie Ray got a deserved win as he got through six no-hit innings before giving up a solo shot to break up the no-no. But George Kirby, who yes gave up eight hits, but was able to hold the Nationals to one run wound up getting nothing from a start in which he tied a season high nine strikeouts and pitched 24 straight strikes to start a game, which is a record since 1988.
The offensive struggles don’t have much to do with Mitch Haniger who has a hit in all but two of the games he has played in since his return to the lineup on August 6. He is also batting above .300 since then and his three home runs have been huge to the offense that looked to be taking off.
But Ty France has been putrid since his return to the lineup after having a wrist injury. It is very possible that he is still dealing with it and that it is partly responsible for his slump, but either way France has been borderline unplayable offensively.
France is hitting .129 in August. Yuck. His overall average has dropped from .312 on July 25th all the way down to batting .278 after yesterday’s game. His OPS has also dropped almost a hundred since then, as well, going from .867 to .772. He is going to miss a couple of games with a calf injury, so hopefully, that can help him reset.
It may be in the Mariners and Ty’s best interest to sit him and let him figure out his struggles in the cage or get an actual chance to heal up if that is what the issue is. They moved him down in the lineup, from second to sixth, for the second game against the Nationals but matched his game one line, going 0-4.
The Mariners still hold the third Wild Card spot in the AL but are now a game and a half back from the top spot, held by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Mariners don’t have too long to dwell on the missed opportunity of not sweeping the 41-83 Nationals in the midst of a push to make the playoffs as they play a midday opener against the Cleveland Guardians to start off a crucial four-game series today.