It’s time to see exactly what Mariners have on offense
Granted, it’s a three-game series between the last place team in the AL West and the last place team in the NL West. But it feels like there’s something to prove this weekend for the Mariners in San Diego.
For a young Seattle squad, it’s time to begin taking steady strides forward. The offense has hit better on the road and is coming off back-to-back games in Arizona where they put up 22 runs. But that was at the launching pad of Chase Field. This weekend brings less-friendly Petco Park, a scene similar to Safeco where the struggles have been apparent.
But there’s no lousy weather this weekend to blame. Temperatures will be in the low 70s here all three days and it’s a glorious blue-sky Friday morning right now. The Mariners need to carry their offensive road success over into this weekend and begin building some momentum for a stretch where they’ll play 23 of their next 33 games at home after this series.
This team’s young hitters need to prove to themselves, as much as anyone, that they can succeed in parks like Petco and Safeco. It’s not about home runs, it’s about line drives in the gaps and playing good situational baseball and taking advantage of opportunities.
The Padres swept the Mariners last week in Seattle in a three-game series that cut the legs out from under the promising road series to Texas, Chicago and Anaheim that preceeded that homestand. This weekend’s series can help get some of that back.
It’ll be Kevin Millwood, Felix Hernandez and Hector Noesi on the mound for the Mariners. But the real test, in my mind, will be the Mariners offense. We’ve seen spurts of what Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak can do over the past year.
It’s worth remembering that Ackley didn’t get called up to Seattle until June 17 last year. Seager made his Major League debut on July 7. Montero didn’t start with the Yankees until Sept. 1. All those guys are a year or less in the big leagues.
So, yes, there is a learning curve and growing pains, which explains some of the offensive ups and downs this season. But it’s time to begin building consistency and confidence in that core group so the Mariners will know exactly what they have — or don’t have — going forward as they await the arrival of their top young pitching prospects to complete the picture in the next year or so.