The Seattle Mariners started their 10-game road trip in impressive fashion. The rest of it hasn’t gone nearly as well.
Among baseball’s most disappointing teams, the Mariners look to avoid being swept in a three-game series for the fifth time this season Wednesday night when they close the trip against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Expected to contend in the AL West after adding Chone Figgins(notes), Milton Bradley(notes) and Cliff Lee(notes) in the offseason, the Mariners (24-41) instead find themselves entrenched in last place with one of the majors’ worst records.
Seattle, which plays its 20th game in as many days Wednesday, opened its trip June 7 with a 4-2 victory over division-leading Texas before dropping five straight. That skid ended Sunday against San Diego but the Mariners have lost the first two games of this series, falling to 9-24 on the road.
Bradley hit his third home run in five games and Ryan Langerhans(notes) also went deep for Seattle in Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss. The two-homer game was a rarity for the Mariners, who rank last in the majors in home runs (38).
Pujols is 6 for 10 with five RBIs in his last three games, snapping a 1 for 18 skid that had dropped him below .300. He is batting a major league-best .352 with 37 homers and 117 RBIs in 483 interleague at-bats.
Rasmus is also swinging a hot bat, batting .410 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 11 games this month.
“Some good luck, I guess,” Rasmus said. “I’ve been working hard on my swing, trying to get good pitches to hit the ball hard, and it’s been working.”
He’ll try to extend his run against impressive Cardinals rookie Jaime Garcia(notes) (6-2, 1.49 ERA), who looks to win his fourth consecutive decision. The left-hander was far from sharp Friday, but overcame five walks to limit Arizona to one run and four hits in five innings of a 5-2 victory.
Garcia’s ERA is the third-lowest by a rookie through his first 12 starts since divisional play began in 1969.
Although he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his outings, Garcia’s control has become an issue. He has walked 18 in his past 28 innings after issuing 11 free passes in his previous 31 1-3.
“Right now, they’re starting to know him and they’re trying to figure out what he can do,” catcher Yadier Molina(notes) told the Cardinals’ official website. “They’re taking pitches, making him work more. They’re not chasing as much.”
Probable starter Jason Vargas(notes) (4-2, 3.05) has quietly been a bright spot for the Mariners. The left-hander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 straight starts while pitching at least six innings in all but one of those outings.
Vargas was hit hard in his only start against the Cardinals on Aug. 31, 2005, with Florida, yielding seven runs and 10 hits - three to Pujols - in five innings of a 10-5 loss.