Kyle Seager, who has produced as well as any Mariner hitter this season, swears there’s no difference between playing at home or on the road.
“We don’t separate the two,” he said Sunday after the Mariners scored six runs in three home games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. “It’s all baseball, it’s all games. We don’t look at it as home or road.”
He may not see a distinction, but statisticians do. And what they see is Seager hitting .200 at Safeco and .315 on the road.
No reason to pick on Seager. Nearly all the Mariners are prone to lameness at their home field. As a team they average .192 at Safeco, and .257 on the road, fifth highest in the American League, boosted by an incredible 21-run game last week in Texas. The Mariners actually lead the AL in road runs scored (178), but that’s thanks to a haywire schedule that had them play 37 road games so far, compared to as few as 26 for Cleveland and Chicago.
To be fair, they ran into a pretty good pitching staff the past weekend in Clayton Kershaw Saturday and Chad Billingsley on Sunday.
“Billingsley has the whole arsenal,” Seager said. “He mixes it up well and throws them all for strikes.”
Much speculation for the home-field flop surrounds the distant fences, the damp, heavy air of Seattle’s maritime climate, and the batting eye in center field. But as far as the issue of the fences, the Mariners struck out 24 times Saturday and Sunday and lead the majors with a whopping 282. St. Louis is second with 275 and Texas is second-most in the AL at 243.
Hard to blame everything on a ballpark’s configuration when a team greatly reduces the sample size by blockbuster whiffing.
Certainly, a part of it is the youth of much of the Mariners’ lineup. Sunday they often seemed over-eager, lunging at first pitches. Again, Seager disagreed.
If it’s a pitch we can hit, we’ll swing early,” he said. “Some days it works. (Sunday) he did a good job missing some barrels. These pitchers have good stuff. It’s going to be tough at-bats. I don’t think it’s necessarily being over-eager. We not doing anything different than on the road trip.
“We just ran into some good arms. We came into this series feeling like we were playing pretty good baseball.”
They may get to resume it against the Padres, who are already 19 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
Felix Hernandez, who hasn’t pitched since June 1 due to a sore back, is scheduled to work for Seattle, his 13th start of the season, opposing Clayton Richard, the National League leader in losses (7). Hernandez is coming off an outing at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago in which he surrendered three gopher balls. Hernandez has allowed six of those in his past three starts.
The Mariners have not named a starter for Thursday, which would normally Kevin Millwood’s turn. But Millwood suffered a groin injury last Friday in the combined no-hitter, and his availability won’t be determined until Tuesday at the earliest.
The Mariners are 44-36 all-time vs. the Padres, including 20-16 at Safeco Field. Seattle won the 2011 season series 5-1, taking two out of three at Safeco and winning three straight at San Diego.
The Mariners last swept the Padres in a three-game series in Seattle May 19-21, 2006. San Diego has never swept a three-game series in Seattle. The Mariners won the season series from San Diego in five of the past six years.
After San Diego, the Mariners will host the San Francisco Giants in series Friday-Sunday, then three at Arizona and three at San Diego. They return to Safeco Field for a 10-game home stand that will feature visits by the Oakland Athletics (June 25-27), Boston Red Sox (June 28-July 1) and Baltimore Orioles (July 2-4).
After a three-game series at Oakland July 6-8, the Mariners will have four days off for the All-Star break.
NOTES: Blake Beavan, the losing pitcher Sunday, is 1-2, 11.77 ERA with four home runs allowed over his past three starts. Over that span, Beavan’s ERA has bloated from 4.38 to 5.92. Despite command problems, manager Eric Wedge said there are no plans to move him from the starting rotation. “There’s nothing going on right now,” he said. “We don’t make rash decisions. He’s a young pitcher who’s has some success here. He has to get back doing what he was doing.” . . . The Mariners are 4-2 in interleague games in 2012 and 149-123 in interleague contests overall . . . Seager reached base either via hit or a walk 21 times in his past 10 games. During those 10, Seager has increased his OBP from .299 to .330 . . . Reliever Charlie Furbush, who tossed 2.2 scoreless innings Sunday, has 9.2 hitless innings over his last eight appearances. Furbush is averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched . . . OF Michael Saunders has hit safely in 10 of his past 12 with two home runs and six doubles . . . Reliever Lucas Luetge has not allowed a run in his first 23 MLB appearances, an on-going Mariner record . . . Jesus Montero saw his six-game hitting streak snapped Sunday . . . . . Mariners have turned at least one double play in 11 consecutive games . . . Ichiro needs one home run to become the 12th Mariner with 100 career homers.
AL WEST STANDINGS