BY John Hickey 07:00AM 06/13/2011

Hickey: Time to take advantage of home field

With 15 of the next 18 games at Safeco Field, the Mariners have a chance to make a push in the AL West.

Felix Hernandez pitched eight gritty innings Sunday to get Seattle to within 1.5 games of first place. / Getty Images

For two of the past three games, at least, it seems that the Mariners are capable of putting together some offense.

Friday, it was seven extra-base hits in a 3-2 win over the Tigers in Detroit. Sunday, it was a home run barrage – two by Miguel Olivo and one by Justin Smoak – that helped Felix Hernandez to a 7-3 win and a split of the four-game series with the improving Tigers.

Time to make a run at home.

Fifteen of the next 18 games are at Safeco Field, starting Monday with three against the Angels.

The Angels have been struggling – nine losses in their last 11 games and three runs or less in 10 of those 11. And you thought the Mariner offense was troubled.

Well, it is. In a 3-4 road trip, the four losses saw the Mariners score one run each.

But a week ago, the Mariners left town 2½ games out of first and managed to trim that to 1½. So that’s something, regardless of runs scored.

The Mariners have a decent chance to run down the first-place Rangers in the next 18 games. The Angels are in a funk. The Phillies, who come in for an interleague series this weekend, are in first place and formidable. But the Mariners then go to the nation’s capital for three with the last-place Nationals before returning for three against the third-place Florida Marlins, three against the second-place Atlanta Braves and three against the last-place San Diego Padres.

The Phillies and the Braves will be a challenge, but the Mariners have four very winnable series among the next six through July 3. The Rangers have some softies too – the Astros for a total of six games – but in the next week Texas has to face the Yankees and the Braves.

And about that Seattle series with the Marlins – it’s not quite what it seems.

The series was originally scheduled for Sun Life Stadium in Florida, but a U2 concert preempted the Marlins, who are a lame-duck tenant and due to move into a new facility next year. So Sun-Life Stadium management told them to look for another venue for this series. The Marlins considered Vancouver before settling on Safeco Field.

Those three interleague games will be played under National League rules with the Marlins as the home team.

In the next three weeks – which will include a couple of off-days after the Mariners wrap up a streak of games on 20 consecutive days Wednesday – Seattle has a chance to do some damage.

But they are going to have make Safeco Field their friend, which they haven’t done as well as they would like. Safeco is well known for the way its cool air and spacious dimensions favor pitchers. Even so, the Mariners have yet to take full advantage with a team built to the home-yard specs.

Seattle is 18-15 with a 3.50 ERA at home. Yet, on the road, Seattle pitchers have a 3.32 ERA, as part of a 16-17 road record. Opportunity is upon them.

Twitter:@JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • Pixel13

    If the NCAA doesn’t cite the Bruin assistant for the same violation, it becomes even more clear they have one set of rules for the bellwether programs, and another for the rest.
    Also seems like Chillious should retain an attorney in that case.

  • SeattleSkate

    Luann Humphrey is a sanctimonious idiot.  These people need to be reigned in