Mariners’ win doesn’t cloak woes

Cruz lifts of­fense and Rod­ney gets save against An­gels, but strug­gles con­tinue.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike DiGiovanna Twit­ter: @ MikeDi­Gio­vanna

As much as the An­gels have un­der­achieved, as much as they’ve strug­gled to score runs and live up to lofty ex­pec­ta­tions, they could glance into the op­pos­ing dugout Fri­day night and take some so­lace in the fact that things could be worse.

They could be the Seat­tle Mariners.

You re­mem­ber them, don’t you? The team that fell one win short of the play­offs last sea­son, bol­stered its of­fense over the win­ter, re­turned most of a pitch­ing staff that led the Amer­i­can League with a 3.17 earne­drun av­er­age in 2014 and was a trendy pick to not only win the di­vi­sion but reach the World Se­ries?

Well, things haven’t ex­actly gone as planned for the Mariners, who even af­ter Fri­day night’s 3- 1 vic­tory in An­gel Sta­dium are 34- 40 and in fourth place in the AL West, eight games be­hind Hous­ton.

“It’s def­i­nitely sur­pris­ing, es­pe­cially with guys like [ Nel­son] Cruz, [ Robin­son] Cano and now [ Mark] Trumbo,” An­gels pitcher Hec­tor San­ti­ago said. “You don’t ex­pect them to be strug­gling with the lineup and pitch­ing staff they have. It just hap­pens in base­ball. Guys didn’t ex­pect us to be .500 at this point.”

The Mariners filled a gap­ing hole in the cleanup spot by sign­ing Cruz to a fouryear, $ 57- mil­lion deal, and the vet­eran slug­ger has put to­gether an All- Star sea­son, bat­ting .306 with 19 homers and 45 runs bat­ted in, in­clud­ing an RBI dou­ble that gave Seat­tle a 2- 1 lead in the sixth in­ning Fri­day night.

But even with Cruz, Seat- tle ranks last in the AL in runs ( 251), av­er­age (. 231), on­base per­cent­age (. 294) and av­er­age with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion (. 207), and it is 14th in slug­ging (. 375).

Cano, the sec­ond base- man in the sec­ond year of a 10- year, $ 240- mil­lion deal, has been so bad — he en­tered Fri­day with a . 246 av­er­age, .284 OBP, .346 slug­ging per­cent­age, three homers, 23 RBIs and 50 strike­outs — he’s been booed at home.

Trumbo, the for­mer An­gels slug­ger who was ac­quired from Ari­zona on June 3, is hit­ting .167 with one homer, f ive RBIs, 18 strike­outs and two walks in 18 games with his new club.

Like the An­gels, Seat­tle has got­ten lit­tle pro­duc­tion from the bot­tom of the or­der, where catcher Mike Zunino (. 163), out­fielder Dustin Ack­ley (. 203) and short­stop Brad Miller (. 231) have hit.

A Felix Her­nan­dez- led ro­ta­tion has the third- best ERA ( 3.86) in the league, but the bullpen has re­gressed from 2014, with a ninth- best 3.64 ERA, and closer Fer­nando Rod­ney’s ERA has jumped from 2.85 in 69 games in 2014 to 5.70 in 31 games this sea­son, although he got the save Fri­day.

“This team is tremen­dously deep of­fen­sively and on the pitch­ing side, too,” Trumbo said. “So far it’s been in­con­sis­tent. A lot of the wins have been re­ally good wins, and some of the losses have got­ten away from us.”

The low point came dur­ing a 2- 9 home­s­tand in late May and early June in which Seat­tle be­came the fourth team in ma­jor league history to score no more than three runs dur­ing any game of a home­s­tand of 10 games or longer.

“Guys who are sup­posed to per­form have to per­form,” Man­ager Lloyd McClen­don said af­ter that stretch. “The fact is, if Cano, Cruz and [ Kyle] Sea­ger don’t hit, then we’re not go­ing to win. And if they con­tinue to not hit, then you’ll be talk­ing to some­one else. I’ll be driv­ing a garbage truck. That’s the way it goes.”

Cano is warm­ing. He hit his fourth home run of the sea­son, a solo shot about 15 rows into the right- f ield bleach­ers, to lead off the eighth Fri­day night and is hit­ting .333 ( 10 for 30) with two homers, three dou­bles and five RBIs in his last eight games.

And Sea­ger is hit­ting .262 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs.

“They had very high ex­pec­ta­tions, but they still have a chance,” An­gels Man­ager Mike Scios­cia said. “They’ve done some things bet­ter as the sea­son has gone along. They’re still a very dan­ger­ous team.”

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