Seattle’s lead atop the American League West was wiped out during its recent road trip. And, its offense and pitching apparently disappeared too.
“This is kind of rock bottom for us, but we are going home and we’ll pick ourselves up. We’ll come out of it,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said.
Seattle looks to show some urgency as it returns to Safeco Field to face former manager Lou Piniella and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the opener of a three-game series.
The Mariners are tied with Oakland for first place in the West after a dismal 1-6 road trip through Toronto and Boston. The Mariners held a four-game lead over the A’s before losing six in a row to end the swing, including Monday’s 8-1 defeat to Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox.
The Mariners haven’t lost seven in a row since an eight-game slide from Aug. 12-20, 2000.
“Coming from where we’ve been, having a little cushion and now we don’t, there is more urgency,” Melvin said.
Seattle scored more than three runs only twice during its six-game slide while being outscored 13-3 in the first three innings of those contests.
Mariners starters have a combined 8.44 ERA during the skid, and only one starter—Freddy Garcia—has gone more than six innings in the last 15 games. Monday’s starter, Gil Meche, lasted only 4 1-3 innings, allowing seven runs and nine hits.
Seattle has the second-best team ERA in the AL at 3.88.
“Basically, the starting pitching has put us behind the eight ball the last six games,” general manager Pat Gillick said. “The pitching has to step up and give us an opportunity to win.”
Jamie Moyer, 0-1 with a 6.80 ERA over his last three starts, will try to reverse that trend Tuesday. The 40-year-old left-hander is 7-2 all-time against Tampa Bay with a 2.14 in 10 starts.
The 17-year veteran posted a 4-3 win over the Devil Rays on July 11 when Piniella returned to Seattle for the first time after leaving for Tampa Bay in the offseason. Seattle took two of three games in that series, with Piniella receiving a warm welcome at Safeco prior to each game.
The Devil Rays suffered a three-game sweep to Cleveland over the weekend. They have lost five in a row overall, allowing 36 runs during the slide.
“This weekend was disappointing,” said Piniella, who turns 60 on Thursday.
STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 5th place, 29 GB, AL East. Mariners - 1st place (tied), AL West.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Victor Zambrano (9-7, 4.27 ERA). After winning three straight starts, Zambrano has gone 0-2 with a 5.26 ERA in his last three. In a 9-5 loss at Baltimore on Wednesday, the Venezuelan right-hander lasted just 3 2-3 innings, giving up six runs and four hits. He also walked six, increasing his AL lead in that category to 87. Zambrano is 2-0 with a 5.28 ERA in four career games, including one start, against Seattle. That lone start came on July 12, when he allowed five runs and six hits over eight innings of a 6-5 road win.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Moyer (15-6, 3.75 ERA). Moyer suffered a 7-3 loss at Toronto on Thursday, giving up five runs, nine hits and walking five over six innings. He had won five straight decisions before his recent slide.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Aubrey Huff, .307 avg., 23 HRs and 75 RBIs; Rocco Baldelli, 70 runs; Carl Crawford, 43 SBs. Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .331 avg., 94 runs and 30 SBs; Bret Boone, 31 HRs and 98 RBIs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - The Devil Rays have lost 14 of the last 21 meetings with the Mariners. … RF Huff is batting .471 (8-for-17) during a four-game hitting streak with three homers and five RBIs. … Tampa Bay optioned OF Jason Tyner to Triple-A Durham on Monday and recalled RHP Doug Waechter. Waechter, who is expected to pitch out of the bullpen, was 8-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 23 appearances in the minors. Mariners - Mariners starters have a 3-9 record and 6.40 ERA in their last 15 games. … DH Edgar Martinez missed his second consecutive game Monday after fouling a ball off his toe. … C Dan Wilson is batting .438 (7-for-16) during a five-game hitting streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 22-41 on the road; Mariners - 39-27 at home.
INJURIES: Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; INF Terry Shumpert (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 60-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL. Mariners - DH Martinez (toe), day-to-day; INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Thornton (elbow), 60-day DL.