The back end of the Mariners rotation has become a major (negative) issue as the club nears the quarter pole of the 2013 season. Seattle plays Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon.
GAME: Mariners (15-18, 3rd, AL West, -5.5 GB) at Pirates (17-14, 2nd, NL Central, -3.0 GB). GAME #: 34. SERIES: 1st of 2 games. MEETING: 1st (Mariners won last series played, 2-1, in 2007). WHEN: 4:05 p.m., PNC Park. STREAKS: Mariners L 1; Pirates L 2. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
The Mariners had a good road trip going until they threw Joe Saunders (5.0 IP, 7 ER) out there Sunday to face what had been an inept-hitting Toronto. In fact, the Mariners might have a very nice season going if they didn’t have back-of-the-rotation starters that collectively lose twice as often as they win and generally look lame in the process.
Saunders just can’t get it done on the road, where, after Sunday’s clinker, he’s 0-4, 12.54, 2.51 WHIP in four starts. At Safeco Field, “Safeco Joe” is 2-0, 0.81. 0.76. Saunders calls the road-home discrepancy “a fluke.” But more than a month into the season, it looks more like a trend.
Brandon Maurer, the 22-year-old in his first major league season after making the jump from AA (Jackson), has two wins at Safeco Field, but is 0-2, 5.68 on the road and 2-4, 6.07 overall.
Aaron Harang had a quality start in his Seattle debut April 16, but tanked in his next two before coming back to record his only victory, an 8-3 decision over Baltimore in which he allowed two earned runs in 6.0 innings. But overall, Harang is 1-3, 8.68.
That means Saunders, Maurer and Harang are a combined 5-11, 6.67, an unacceptable contrast to the 7-3, 1.61 ERA compiled by No. 1 Felix Hernandez and No. 2 Hisashi Iwakuma. The Mariners are only three games under .500 and a half dozen out of the division lead. They’d be a contender with just a so-so back-end rotation.
Harang, who goes Tuesday at Pittsburgh, has just one road start and a Jeff Weaverish-15.43 ERA to show for it. He’ll oppose James McDonald, who hasn’t seen the Mariners since 2009 when he pitched for the Dodgers — more than 300 Seattle losses ago.
McDonald, in danger of losing his spot in Pittsburgh’s rotation, will enter Tuesday with a 5.76 ERA and 12 walks in his past three outings. A closer look:
MARINERS: RHP Aaron Harang (1-3, 8.68 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)
The 34-year Harang, a San Diego native in his 12th major league season and first with the Mariners, will make his fifth start and first against the Pirates. Harang sustained three consecutive bludgeonings to launch his Seattle career, but responded with a nice home effort against Baltimore in his last start. So far, he’s been much better at home than on the road. At Safeco, he’s 1-2, 6.43. On the road, he’s 0-1, 15.43.
PIRATES: RHP James McDonald (2-2, 5.76 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)
The 28-year-old McDonald, a Long Beach, CA., native in his sixth major league season and fourth with the Pirates, will make his seventh start and first against the Mariners. McDonald, selected by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2002 amateur draft, alternated wins and losses in his first four starts and is coming off consecutive no-decisions. In those two, he allowed a combined 10 earned runs on 13 hits.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
|5/7||Tue||at Pitt||RHP Aaron Harang (1-3) vs. RHP James McDonald (2-2)|
|5/8||Wed||at Pitt||RHP Felix Hernandez (3-2) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (2-2)|