SAN DIEGO — The end of interleague portion of the baseball couldnt come soon enough for the Seattle Mariners. After years of getting healthy against National League opponents, particularly their natural rivals the San Diego Padres, the Mariners did what most American League teams do not during this period season - struggled.
With Sundays unremarkable 2-0 loss to the San Diego Padres, the 2012 Mariners finished with an 8-10 record against National League opponents this season. Its a dubious mark considering that the franchise had posted .500 records or better during interleague play for the last 12 seasons. Only the New York Yankees, who currently are at 15 straight seasons, had a longer streak.
Even worse, Sundays loss meant the Mariners (31-43) went 1-5 against the Padres, who even with the win have the second worst record in all of baseball at 25-47.
As bad as the Mariners have been at Safeco Field which is somewhere between anemic and awful they are ready to come home and back to games with a designated hitter.
Im looking forward to getting back home and getting another bat in the lineup, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. Im just looking forward to getting home and playing some good baseball.
It wasnt as if the Mariners played completely awful while going 2-4 on the six-game road trip, featuring stops in Arizona and San Diego.
With the exception of what Padres starter Edinson Volquez and the San Diego bullpen did to them on Sunday, the Mariners hit and hit the ball plenty on the trip. They batted .276 on the trip, scoring 33 runs with 18 extra base hits. However starting pitching failed them for much of the trip.
It was the reverse on Sunday.
Hector Noesi, whos been the definition of inconsistent this season, gave the Mariners a pretty solid effort. The young right-hander pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, while striking out six and walking three. Beyond the numbers, Noesi showed better focus on the mound, not giving up hits in 0-2 and 1-2 counts.
I thought Hector threw the ball better today, Wedge said. He was much more consistent with everything. He repeated his delivery, he was down, did a better job with two strikes, mixed all his pitches. They made him work a little bit, too. I was really pleased with the way he pitched today.
Noesis only runs allowed came in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases with no outs. After working himself in serious trouble, Noesi escaped serious injury by gloving Cameron Maybins laser of line drive back at the mound just inches from his face.
It was quick, man, Noesi said. When you are out there pitching you dont know whats going to happen. It can be scary.
But on his next pitch the first to diminutive second baseman Alexi Amarista it got ugly.
Listed at 5-7, but closer to 5-4, the left-handed hitting Amarista went with a fastball and drove deep to left.
Mariners left fielder Casper Wells, who was playing Amarista shallow, simply couldnt get back in time. The ball bounced off the warning track over the wall for a ground rule to score two runs.
He doesnt do that, but he got a good piece of it, Wells said. So I just had to turn and run. I was playing pretty shallow on him. I played it like it was going to slice, but it stayed pretty true and I wasnt able to catch up to it.
Its the idea of positioning. The odds of Amarista replicating the same result were slim.
Bases loaded with a guy like that, youve got to take your chance, Wells said. If he gets a good piece like that, thats what youre forced to deal with. You cant have one fall in and have two runs score there. Unfortunately thats the way it fell.
Noesi did manage to keep the damage at two runs, striking out Volquez and getting Will Venable to ground out to end the inning.
Unfortunately, his teammates werent providing much offense behind him. They managed just five hits total and Noesi of all people - had two of them.
To get shut out I dont know how many hard-hit balls we had, but it was quite a few, Wedge said. Especially early on, really, up and down the lineup. I felt like we had some real good ABs, and we made Volquez work.
Four Padres pitchers combined on the shut out, but Volquezs work was the best. He threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits, striking out four and walking three, and never allowing Mariners hitters to get comfortable.
Thats what he does, said Justin Smoak. Guy throws 95 miles per hour and he doesnt really throw it. He throws change-up and curveball, in and out and keeps you off balance.
The Mariners will now open a 10-game homestand today, starting with the Oakland As. Despite having just a 12-19 record at Safeco Field and the worst home field hitting numbers in baseball a .202 batting average, .283 on-base percentage and a .304 slugging percentage, the players are ready to be back in Seattle, and hopefully turn things around.
Just to get back home will be good, Smoak said. Well be at home for a while. Hopefully we can turn around it at home.