SEAside Thoughts: Mariners a quarter of the way to making us all sad

Seattle Mariners v Atlanta Braves
Seattle Mariners v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

With the Mariners sitting at 22-24 at the quarter point of the season (before the Athletics series), it's safe to say this is not how fans thought the season would start. A nine-game road trip that saw the Mariners just miss out on the opportunity to sweep the Detroit Tigers, ended with two disappointing series losses in Boston and Atlanta.

The Mariners find themselves seven games behind the AL West leading Texas Rangers and five games back of Houston for the final wildcard spot. People can keep saying it's early, but if we don't see a spark, or some series wins against teams not named Oakland and Detroit, the season could get away from them.

Struggles in the smaller parks

Fenway Park was not kind to the Seattle Mariners again. After an impressive 10-1 win to start the series, the M's were outscored by two touchdowns (21-7) in the final two games. It got me thinking, do the Mariners have a small ballpark problem? Specifically Fenway and Houston's Minute Maid Park.

Since 2019, the Mariners are a whopping 9-44 in those two ballparks combined. While Houston has been the standard of excellence (365-228) for a while, the Red Sox have been just over .500, sitting at 304-290. The Mariners, in comparison, have been 298-295.

What is missing that has caused Seattle so many woes? 

Cal Raleigh quietly having a good season

If I told you before the season that both Jarred Kelenic and Cal Raleigh would be having all-star caliber seasons, you'd probably guess that Seattle would be one of the best teams in all of baseball. While that isn't the case right now, that doesn't mean the Big Dumper doesn't deserve some praise.

In front of his family, Cal became the first catcher to ever hit home runs from both sides of the plate in Fenway Park. He put on quite the show with his grandmother in attendance.

Cal is currently sporting a 116 OPS+ and is on pace for a 29/29 home run and doubles season. A 30/30 season is definitely in play.

Young Guns hold up

Heading into Atlanta, we knew the Mariners pitching staff was in for its biggest challenge yet. Bryce Miller, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby were going to have to be excellent to have a chance, and for the most part, they held their own.

While the Mariners went 1-2, their starters pitched well enough to win all three games against the World Series favorites.

Miller: 6.1 IP, 3 runs on 4 hits, 1 BB 4 K's

Gilbert: 6 IP, 2 runs on 4 hits, 1 BB and 9 K's

Kirby: 7 IP, 3 runs on 6 hits, 1 BB and 6 K's

With Luis Castillo scuffling in his last few starts, these three holding down the fort is huge. The consistent ability of Gilbert, Kirby and Miller to go 6-7 innings without going past 100 pitches or even coming close takes me back to the days of watching the Braves aces in late 90's. Baseball may not be very fun at the moment, but the future's so bright with those three young stars.

What's on deck?

The Mariners have to crush Oakland at home this week, and got off to a good start. Four games against the worst team in baseball. An opportunity for Luis Castillo, Marco Gonzales, and the offense to get right. Going 3-1 to get back to .500 seems like a must, before the surprising, but recently struggling, Pirates and then the Yankees to finish out the homestand.

As we head into June, the Mariners could be clear of .500 and pushing the Rangers and Astros, or still stuck in the mud and in need of another crazy long win streak. While that was fun, hopefully the Mariners don't need that kind of magic again.

Go M's