Mariners' lefties are left out when it comes to finding a win

The team's right-handed starting pitchers are 6-6, which isn't great but a whole lot better than the lefties' 0-6 record so far.

The team's right-handed starting pitchers are 6-6, which isn't great but a whole lot better than the lefties' 0-6 record so far.

As always, the French have a word for it, and the word they have for what’s wrong with the Seattle Mariners is “gauche,” as in “left” — as in the M's left-handed starters, who are 0-6. Such a thesaurus-emptying record could be called inept, bumbling, graceless, ham-handed, and lacking: a gauche quotient that doesn’t promise to get right anytime soon.

Erik Bedard is the leftest of the lefties, which leaves you believing he was the worst swap acquisition of the Bill Bavasi era. Bedard is 0-4 with an earned-run average of 7.71. In English, this means the Ms (worst-hitting team in the league) might need to score eight times against Detroit Wednesday to win Bedard’s next scheduled start. Seattle has amassed that many runs in a game just twice this year.

Once the wunderkind of the Orioles organization, Bedard hasn’t put up consistent W’s since W was in office. Opponents this month have pounded him for a .313 batting average, with seven home runs.

Slightly to Bedard’s right is southpaw Jason Vargas. His E.R.A. is 5.53 and, with two L’s this season, he’s lost nine in a row going back to last year.

By contrast, M’s starting right-handers are 6-6 after Doug Fister’s no-decision for the M’s Sunday (April 24), in a 5-2 loss to Oakland. It’s not exactly a mark to make you place playoff-ticket orders. The righties, though, do include a recent Cy Young Award winner and Michael Pineda, the prevailing early-season freshman phenom, who may not quite keep up his impressive 3-1 pace and his 1.78 E.R.A. but certainly has fans yapping. “Cy” guy Felix Hernandez seems likely to improve upon his 2-2 mark, maybe as soon as Tuesday’s road-trip-opening tiff with the Tigers.

Sunday’s game drew just 16,530 fans (the team has been luring lean crowds), who received the visual gift of a Griffeyesque sixth-inning grab by Oakland centerfielder Coco Crisp. The game was combative and competitive in that both starters plunked a batter and both teams scored during the first and were knotted through six.

The M’s initial run came after lead-off batter Ichiro bunted safely, stole second and scored from third on a Milton Bradley ground-out to second: not exactly Big Ball but it tied the score. Ich, designated hitter for the day, had a pair of singles and raised his season’s average to .309 as he approached the apparently inevitable league lead in hits.

Otherwise it was yet another game of offensive frustration. Aside from Ichiro, the locals managed just four singles and left eight on base.

Fister is turning into the hard-luck starter of the season. He gave up but one earned run on four hits, earning claim to a victory that his position players couldn’t provide for him. Maintaining an E.R.A. of .319 obviously means nothing if your offense only puts up a pair.

But let’s reluctantly get back to Bedard. Assuming he’s a bust, do the M’s have even a theoretical, if not appreciatively less gauche, option for another left-handed starter?

Well, as I write this, there’s a lefty with big-league experience at triple-A. For Tacoma he’s giving up four-something earned runs per game. Unfortunately he was 0-3 through April 22 and opponents were hitting .347 against him.

Also not helpful in the current context: His name happens to be Luke French.


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