The Seattle Mariners have some of the best pitching in baseball, though the staff has been severely undermined by one of the worst offenses in the majors.
After being shut out for the second time in three games, the Mariners will try to find some offensive punch Wednesday night against the last-place Minnesota Twins.
Seattle (49-41) ranks third overall with a 3.15 ERA, but the bats haven't been doing their part with a .242 average that's better than only five other teams. The Mariners have been shut out 11 times, one fewer than Tampa Bay and San Diego for most in the majors.
The imbalance between hitting and pitching has been clear during a 2-3 stretch. The arms have compiled a 2.25 ERA while the bats have mustered a .199 average with six runs after Tuesday's 2-0 loss.
The Mariners are also 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position over the past five games. However, manager Lloyd McClendon isn't showing any concerns yet, and instead heaped praise on Minnesota's Phil Hughes, who struck out eight in 7 1-3 innings Tuesday.
"I'm not going to sit here every night and say we are struggling and the next night say we are great," McClendon said. "That was just a hell of a game. That's the way it goes."
Kyle Seager's production has been rather worrisome with a 2-for-21 clip and seven strikeouts in the last five games. The third baseman, who has made his first All-Star team, had a .528 average with three homers and 12 RBIs over the previous nine contests.
Seager and the Mariners may be in position to improve at the plate with Minnesota sending Kyle Gibson (7-7, 4.17) to the mound. Gibson is 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 10 road starts compared to 4-2 with a 2.51 ERA in seven at home.
The right-hander is also coming off one of his worst performances of the season after he was hammered for six runs before being pulled after the second inning of Friday's 6-5 home loss to the New York Yankees.
"I've had a lot of these starts," Gibson told MLB's official website. "It's either been good or bad. Nothing really in the middle. I'm just trying to get more consistent. One thing I've tried to focus on this season is limiting crooked numbers, but giving up three runs in back-to-back innings is no way to start a game."
Gibson gave up five runs and two homers in five innings of a 6-4 loss in his only start at Seattle on July 28. However, he limited the Mariners to one run in seven innings of a 5-4 home win May 16.
Getting to Gibson again could be important since Seattle is giving the ball to Roenis Elias (7-7, 4.19 ERA), who has lost back-to-back starts while surrendering 10 runs in 11 innings. The rookie left-hander had yielded two runs in 13 2-3 innings while winning the previous two outings.
Elias' only start against the Twins ended in a 4-3 loss May 15, when he gave up four runs in seven innings with three coming on a homer by Brian Dozier in the fifth.
He'll have to contend with Sam Fuld, who is 12 for 27 (.444) in eight games after hitting a solo homer for one of his three hits Tuesday.
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