Never in the designated-hitter era (since 1973) has a team played 13 consecutive games while scoring three or fewer runs. The Mariners could become the first Tuesday night.
Twenty-seven years ago this month (June 1988), and five days after the brief managerial tenure of Jimmy Snyder commenced, the Mariners embarked on a string of 12 games against Minnesota, Milwaukee and Texas. To Snyder’s consternation, and detriment, they lost 10 and didn’t score more than three runs in any. In six, the Mariners tallied only once or suffered a shutout while batting an Ackley-like .183.
By the end of those 12, the Mariners were 19 games out of first place. Jimmy Snyder never managed in the majors again after the club straggled home 68-93.
That 27-year-old stretch of 12 games scoring three or fewer runs stood as a franchise record until Sunday, when Lloyd McClendon’s debacle of a ball club matched it by falling to David Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 at Safeco Field. The loss also completed a 2-9 home stand, worst in club annals of 10 games or more.
The Mariners scored 21 runs while dropping three of four to Cleveland, all three to the Yankees, and three of four to the Rays. In the process, the Mariners struck out an astonishing 133 times, including 13 (11 by Archer) Sunday.
Try this for a comparison: During Seattle’s franchise-record, 17-game losing streak in 2011 (July 6-26), the Mariners whiffed 142 times, including 18 in a 4-1 loss at New York on the final day of the losing streak. During the 17-gamer, the Mariners struck out in double digits four times. They had seven such games in the 2-9 home stand.
Now the Mariners must face reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber Tuesday night. Kluber, who recorded 13 strikeouts against the Mariners May 28, has 105 this season, ranking second in the American League to Archer’s 108.
The Mariners eked across 11 runs against the Indians last week – 2.7 per game – and will make dubious history if they don’t get to Kluber for at least four. Without four, the Mariners will extend their streak of three or fewer runs to 13 games. That would break a tie with three other clubs, including the 1988 Mariners, to rank as most in the AL in the era of the designated hitter (since 1973).
|1986||Sept. 20-Oct. 2||Detroit Tigers||12||Went 6-6, scoring 24 runs|
|1988||April 4-17||Baltimore Orioles||12||.186 BA vs. KC, Clev, Milw|
|1988||June 10-22||Seattle Mariners||12||.183 BA vs. Tex, Milw, Minn|
|2015||May 27-June 7||Seattle Mariners||12||.227 BA, K’d 133 times|
|1978||May 21-29||Detroit Tigers||11||Went 2-9 vs. Red Sox, O’s|
|2007||July 3-16||Oakland A’s||11||.183 BA vs. Tex, Minn, Sea|
|2010||Aug. 27-Sept. 6||Seattle Mariners||11||Daren Brown interim manager|
Excluding this year’s Mariners, only two of the six other teams on the list finished with a winning record, two lost more than 100 games, and none reached the postseason.
The Cleveland series launches an eight-game road trip that will include three at Progressive Field, three at Houston and two at San Francisco. The Mariners, who have scored three or fewer runs 34 times in 56 games (AL-high 60.7 percent), are 1-3 against the Indians, 1-6 against the division-leading Astros and have been outscored 56-37 in those games.
Given the negative trend, the Mariners, currently 8.5 games out, could return to Safeco Field June 17 staring at a double-digit deficit in the AL West. Come September, the next eight might be viewed as the juncture in the schedule where the Mariners jumped the rails for the 2015 season – if they haven’t already.