After playing their best baseball of the season earlier this month to move within striking distance of the division lead, the Seattle Mariners have been tumbling down the standings.
The Mariners look to avoid losing a season-high seventh straight game when they continue their three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
Seattle (35-32) won nine of 10 games from June 2-12 to move nine games above .500 and within three games of the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. In dropping six straight, though, the Mariners have fallen to third in the division, 7 1/2 games behind the Angels.
“People are trying to do too much to get out of it,” designated hitter Jose Vidro said after the Mariners dropped Monday’s series opener 5-3, “but we’ve got what it takes and we’ll get back.”
Catcher Kenji Johjima was hitless in three at-bats on Monday, and is just 1-for-20 during the losing skid after batting .442 (19-for-43) in his previous 10 games.
Although the team is struggling, Ichiro Suzuki is still swinging a hot bat. The Seattle center fielder extended his hitting streak to 14 games with two singles. Ichiro is batting .468 during his the run.
This would be a good time for Mariners starter Jeff Weaver (0-6, 10.97 ERA) to end his personal losing streak and earn his first victory of the season.
Weaver went on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis after posting a 14.32 ERA in losing his first six starts, but has shown some improvement since being activated June 9, yielding four earned runs over 10 innings in two outings while not recording a decision.
Weaver gave up three runs in the first inning Thursday against the Chicago Cubs, but quickly settled down. The right-hander was in line for the win when he was pulled, but the Cubs rallied for a 5-4 victory.
“Other than (the first inning), I was really happy with execution of the pitches and it’s another step in the right direction,” said Weaver, who allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings.
Weaver has allowed 62 hits in only 32 innings this season for a .413 opponent batting average.
He has pitched well in his career against the Pirates, going 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA in seven outings. While pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals last season, though, Weaver lost both of his starts against Pittsburgh while giving up four runs in 12 1-3 innings.
The Pirates (31-39) have won two straight games and five of their last seven. They have not won three in a row since May 25-27.
Paul Maholm (3-9, 5.00) looks to build off his solid last outing when he takes the ball for the Pirates.
Maholm allowed one run and three hits in seven innings of a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday, bouncing back after going 0-5 with a 5.26 ERA in his previous six starts.
The left-hander is 1-3 with a 4.63 ERA in six career interleague starts, although this will be his first appearance against the Mariners.