The reeling Mariners, who went 1-5 on a road trip through Arlington and Houston, begin a four-game series with the Angels Thursday at Safeco Field.
GAME: Angels (8-12, 3rd, AL West, -5.5 GB) at Mariners (8-15, 4th, AL West, -7.0 GB). GAME #: 24. SERIES: 1st of 4 games. MEETING: 1st (Angels won 2012 series 11-8). WHEN: Thursday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; Angels L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
With a 1-5 road trip in the books (outscored 36-8 in the five losses), including two brutal setbacks to the $25 million Houston Astros, the 8-15 Mariners are just percentage points (.015) of staking out last place — again! — in the AL West slightly less than a week before April turns to May. Last year, the Mariners, a relatively robust 11-12 after 23 games, didn’t hit bottom until May 12, and that was only a temporary wallow in the dregs.
Based on their own — and relentless — spring training optimism, as well as Eric Wedge’s assurances that his club was headed in the right direction, the Mariners have so far been a major disappointment. Maybe the Mariners will suddenly bolt up off their ER stretcher and start chasing nurses down the hall, but they have evidenced no such stirrings to date.
The Mariners were supposed to feature a far stronger offensive club than the 2012 edition that ranked 14th across the board in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, but here are the 2013 Mariners ranked 14th, 14th and 14th again.
To get something going, Wedge Wednesday changed his starting shortstop, demoting .143-hitting Brendan Ryan and promoting Robert Andino, a .161 slugger. Hard to tell how this will ignite the offense, but Mariners’ fans will begin to find out Thursday when a tattered club returns to Seattle to open a seven-game home stand, which includes four against the L.A. Angels and a trio against the Baltimore Orioles.
Rookie RHP Brandon Mauer will look at the Angels for the first time Thursday, and they are the most underachieving team in the division (8-12) aside from Seattle. In the offseason, the Angels made a huge investment in Josh Hamilton, a player the Mariners coveted, and so far the ROI is worthy of a criminal investigation: .225 BA, 2 home runs, 8 RBIs. Maybe the shortened Safeco Field fences will get him going.
2012 Rookie of the Year Mike Trout (.326 BA, 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases) has also slouched, and will check into Safeco Field hitting .271 with just two homers.
Maurer, who had a 16.20 ERA after his first two starts, has yielded a 2.84 mark in his last two. He’ll oppose Garrett Richards, rushed into the L.A. rotation to replace the injured Jered Weaver. Richards has pitched well enough so far to merit a full-time rotation spot himself. A closer look at the starters:
MARINERS: RHP Brandon Maurer (1-3, 7.45 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
The 22-year-old Maurer, a Newport Beach, CA., native in his first major league season, will make his fifth start and first against the Angels. After opening his career with a pair of rugged starts, Mauer has posted a 2.84 ERA in his last two — both against Texas. Maurer collected his only victory April 14 at Safeco Field when he held Texas to three earned runs on five hits in 6.0 innings. The rookie, a 23rd-round draft choice by Seattle in 2008, is coming off a no-decision at Texas.
ANGELS: RHP Garrett Richards (1-0, 2.55 ERA, 0.67 WHIP)
The 24-year-old Richards, an Edmond, OK., native in his third major league season, all with the Angels, will make his seventh appearance, his third start and first against the Mariners. Richards made four bullpen appearances before receiving his first start against the Houston Astros April 13. He received a no-decision in that game after allowing three earned runs in 6.1 innings. The Angels selected Richards in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|4/25||Thr||vs. LAA||RHP Brandon Maurer (1-3) vs. Garrett Richards (1-0)|
|4/26||Fri||vs. LAA||RHP Aaron Harang (0-2) vs. LHP (C.J. Wilson (1-0)|
|4/27||Sat||vs. LAA||RHP Felix Hernandez (2-2) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (0-3)|
|4/28||Sun||vs. LAA||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1) LHP Jason Vargas (0-3)|