Lefty Joe Saunders will pitch for the Mariners Monday when they return to Safeco Field to host the Chicago White Sox. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest
GAME: White Sox (24-30, 4th, AL Central, -5-5 GB) at Mariners (24-33, 4th, AL West, -11.5 GB). GAME #: 58. SERIES: 1st of 3 games. MEETING: 4th (White Sox lead series 2-1). WHEN: Monday, 7:10 p.m., Safeco Field. STREAKS: Mariners L 2; White Sox L 6. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
When the major league season began, most figured that if nothing else went right for the Mariners they at least wouldn’t finish last in the AL West again. The reasoning was that with the Houston Astros, 100-game losers in each of the past two years, entering the AL West, Seattle couldn’t possibly dwell in the cellar again.
April’s results seemed to confirm that. The Astros started 1-6 and were 8-19 by the end of the month — four of their wins coming at Seattle’s expense. But Houston has won five in a row — Seattle hasn’t won more than three consecutive all season — and the Astros finished Sunday with 20 wins.
After a sixth walk-off loss Saturday and a 10-0 shellacking Sunday, the Mariners are stuck on 24 wins with the Astros surging and Seattle having developed no identity outside their 1-2 starting pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma.
The Mariners are catching the incoming Chicago White Sox at their most vulnerable. The Sox have lost six in a row and will send out lefty John Danks, who underwent rotator cuff surgery last June, to contest Joe Saunders, who is 9-1, 2.23 ERA in his career at Safeco Field.
Monday is the first of 10 over the next 10 days against the White Sox (three), Yankees (four) and the Astros (three). Question is whether Seattle will still be a fourth-place team by the time suddenly confident Houston arrives.
MARINERS: Joe Saunders (3-5, 5.57 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
The 31-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 12th start and first against the White Sox. Saunders, who hasn’t won since May 12 when he defeated Oakland, has a loss and a no-decision in his past two outings. The Mariners only provided him with one run of support in his last start, at San Diego May 29.
- LAST START: May 29 at San Diego, took a no-decision in Seattle’s 3-2 loss; 1 earned run on 4 hits in 7.0 innings; 3 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 home run, 89 pitches, 54 for strikes.
- LAST VS. WHITE SOX: Aug. 29, 2012, pitching for Baltimore, lost 8-1; 7 earned runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings; 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0 home runs, 99 pitches, 62 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. WHITE SOX: 4-4, 4.24 ERA in 9 starts covering 57.1 innings; 38 strikeouts, 21 walks, 5 home runs, 1.25 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 9-1, 2.23 ERA in 14 starts covering 88.2 innings; 45 strikeouts, 29 walks, 7 home runs; 1.12 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Tyler Flowers (0-for-2, .000), Adam Dunn (1-for-9, .111), Casper Wells (1-for-6, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Paul Konerko (7-for-20, .350), Gordon Beckham (3-for-9, .333), Alex Rios (8-for-27, .296).
- CURRENT WHITE SOX VS. SAUNDERS: 33-for-115, .287 BA, 15 strikeouts, 7 walks, 2 home runs, .333 on-base percentage.
TWINS: LHP John Danks (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
The 28-year-old Danks, a Round Rock, TX., native in his seventh major league season, all with the White Sox, will make his third start and first against the Mariners. After his surgery Danks didn’t rejoin the White Sox rotation until May 24, when he took a no-decision in a 4-3 win over Miami. Danks wasn’t nearly as effective in his last start, allowing three earned runs in a short outing.
- LAST START: May 20 at Chicago Cubs, lost 9-3; 3 earned runs on 4 hits in 4.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 home runs, 80 pitches, 46 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: April 22, 2012, won 7-4; 4 earned runs on 7 hits in 6.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 4 walks, 0 home runs, 94 pitches, 59 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 7-4, 2.96 ERA in 12 starts covering 82.0 innings; 61 strikeouts, 19 walks, 8 home runs, 1.13 WHIP.
- AT SAFECO FIELD: 4-2, 2.32 ERA in 7 starts covering 50.1 innings; 41 strikeouts, 15 walks, 3 home runs, 1.05 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kendrys Morales (1-for-9, .111), Brendan Ryan (1-for-7, .143), Justin Smoak (1-for-6, .167).
- HATES TO FACE: Endy Chavez (2-for-5, .400), Raul Ibanez (3-for-8, .375), Michael Saunders (2-for-6, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. DANKS: 36-for-130, .200 BA, 34 strikeouts, 8 walks, 3 home runs, .257 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT HOME STAND: Three vs. the White Sox (Monday-Wednesday), four vs. Yankees (Thursday-Sunday), three vs. the Astros (Monday-Wednesday). The Mariners amid 20 games in 20 days with their next day off June 13.
- In his first start Sunday in 975 days, Jeremy Bonderman gave up three home runs, a triple and three doubles en route to a seven-run shelling.
- The Mariners collected just five hits Sunday (Minnesota had 16), two by Kendrys Morales, who lifted his batting average to .301.
- The Mariners finished a five-game road trip 203 and for a 24-33 record.
- The Mariners made a number of moves Sunday in order to make room for RHP Jeremy Bonderman on the major league roster. They placed 1B Justin Smoak on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 30, designated INF Vinnie Catricala for assignment, and traded minor league outfielder Francisco Martinez to the Detroit Tigers for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Bonderman made the start Sunday against Minnesota. Smoak, whom manager Eric Wedge had hoped to start Sunday, came out of Seattle’s May 25 game vs. Texas with a right oblique strain. He last appeared in a game as a pinch-hitter May 29 at San Diego. Catricala hit .253 for AA Jackson. The Mariners designated Martinez for assignment May 27 when they called up second baseman Nick Franklin.
- Closer Tom Wilhelmsen got the day off Sunday after suffering his third blown save in four chances Saturday. Wilhelmsen is 12-for-15 in save opportunities.
- Saturday’s walk-off loss was Seattle’s sixth of the season, most in the majors (Miami has five) and the club’s 42nd walk-off loss since 2010. That’s 13 more than any other AL club (Toronto 29). The 2011 Mariners endured 13 walk-off defeats and last year’s club had 11.
2013 WALK-OFF LOSSES (6)
- April 7 at White Sox: Lost 4-3 in 10 innings when Kameron Loe allowed a solo home run to Dayan Viciedo.
- May 17 at Indians: Lost 6-3 in 10 innings on a three-run homer by Jason Kipnis off Lucas Luetge.
- May 18 at Indians: Lost 5-4 when Mark Reynolds hit into a fielder’s choice off Yoervis Medina in the ninth, scoring Jason Kipnis.
- May 20 at Indians: Lost 10-8 in 10 innings when Yan Gomes hit a three-run homer off Charlie Furbush.
- May 29 at Padres: Lost 3-2 when Will Venable hit a 10th-inning single off Yoervis Medina.
- June 1 at Twins: Lost 5-4 when Ryan Doumit hit a two-run triple in the ninth off Tom Wilhelmsen.
||LHP Joe Saunders (3-5) vs. LHP John Danks (0-0)
||RHP Felix Hernandez (6-4) vs. RHP Jake Peavy (6-2)
||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-1) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (3-3)