This is what it comes to for your Seattle Mariners, 13 and 21 now after frittering away a late-game four-run lead Thursday (May 13) and losing 6-5 to the 11-24 Baltimore Orioles:
If the M’s (improbably) were to start the same line-up Friday in Florida against Tampa Bay as they did in the finale of the 1-2 series against the O’s, their best hitter for average would be batting ninth. Their two- through five-hole guys would be hitting a combined .198. Their catcher would be averaging .158 (though it would skyrocket to .160 if Adam Moore started for Rob Johnson).
Chone Figgins at the plate has been a spectacle sad enough to remind fans of the agonizing final months of the Richie Sexson career. Last year Figgins fanned every 5.4 at-bats. This season it’s a “K” every 3.6 plate appearances (he whiffed twice in Thursday’s game). For comparison, Sexson had a career fanning rate of once every 3.75 at-bats.
Casey Kotchman got out of Baltimore with a .191 mark, going zero for four Thursday. Kotchman has three dingers, tying him for the team lead. For the record, last year 10 big-leaguers each hit three home runs in single games. Kotchman has played error-free first base, not surprising since he’s only logged 10 botches during a seven-year career. Figgins, acceptable at second, has four errors so far, the most conspicuous a misjudged pop fly behind second base during the recent disastrous home stand.
But if neither infielder improves at the plate, neither will be playing for the Mariners during the post-season. This will either be because someone else will take their positions or because M’s brass stubbornly sticks with a pair of non-hitters and suffers the consequences.
One sign of hope during the Thursday loss, when overworked reliever Brandon League gave up five earned runs after Felix Hernandez had shown 2009 form through seven, was the plate work of Michael Saunders. The lanky left-fielder pulled a pair of impressive drives, the second of which cleared the right-field wall with the M’s fifth run during the seventh. Obviously nobody expects Saunders to maintain anything like his team-leading .389 pace but he seems more aggressive than ever at the plate, especially impressive given his slow start in Tacoma.
In short, then, there isn’t much the M’s brain trust can do at this point but wait and hope. One hope is that the double-A-caliber offense the club has been cobbling together doesn’t start taking a psychological toll on the four starters who are pitching well enough to carry a team with an average offense to the playoffs.
Instead, the M’s have an offense of averages, nearly half of them below .200.
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