As the Mariners limp into the All-Star break looking for answers, general manager Jerry Dipoto openly acknowledges an ongoing search to bolster the pitching staff.
Dipoto has long maintained there are two "30- to 45-day windows" when clubs can acquire starting pitching. One is now through the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The other is December and January.
So the Mariners, to use Dipoto’s phrase, will have their "antennae up" over the next few weeks in regard to possible pitching moves, but he pointedly added, "I don’t think you’ll see us add on the position-players side."
Statistically, that makes sense. The Mariners rank sixth among American League clubs in averaging 4.80 runs per game (through Saturday) and fourth in OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage adjusted to ballpark factors).
They have the league’s leading hitter in Jean Segura and No. 5 hitter in Ben Gamel. The have the league’s RBI leader in Nelson Cruz, and the No. 6 RBI producer in Robinson Cano.
Mike Zunino, while slumping now, had 31 RBIs in June. First baseman Danny Valencia has played at an All-Star level since late April. Third baseman Kyle Seager is an established performer.
Right fielder Mitch Haniger seems to have steadied after a rough stretch when he returned from the disabled list. Center fielders Jarrod Dyson and Guillermo Heredia have contributed terrific defense while holding their own at the plate.
Even so, it is the lineup’s recent slide that put the club in its current mess.
The Mariners batted .267 and averaged 4.97 runs per game in going 39-37 through their first 76 games. During their current 3-10 slide, they are batting .242 and averaging 3.77 runs per game.
It’s notable that, during the last 13 games, the Mariners’ pitching has improved: a 4.67 ERA through 76 games, and 4.38 in the last 13.
The problem is diminished offensive production — from a lineup that, Dipoto reiterates, is unlikely to change.
"Our group knows it," he said. "This is a veteran group. We are sprinkled with some youth, but the Canos and the Cruzes and the Seagers — they know how to play.
"They know what this is about, and they also know that this team is more talented than we’ve played, and to a man, I’ll tell ya, I don’t think there’s a single one of ’em that believes we should bust up this group.
"There’s not a single of ’em that doesn’t understand how we got here, and there’s not a single one of ’em that doesn't come to work, today, trying to figure out how to be the guy to get us out of it."
The Mariners, when the season resumes Friday, have 70 games to get out of it.
***The pre-break finale starts at 1:10 p.m. Sunday and matches Felix Hernandez (3-3 with a 5.04 ERA) against Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-3 and 6.23). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.
***Hernandez is 23-9 with a 2.68 ERA in 44 career starts against Oakland. He doesn’t have more than 19 victories against any other team.
***Gossett, 24, was the Athletics’ second-round pick in 2014 and is making his sixth career start since his June 14 recall from Triple-A Nashville. He has never faced the Mariners.
***Marcus Semien is 7-for-22 with three homers in his career against Hernandez. Yonder Alonso is 6-for-18, and Jed Lowrie is 11-for-43. But Matt Joyce is just 3-for-28, and Khris Davis is 1-for-9.
***Segura enters Sunday with a .355, which leads the American League even though he is seven plate appearances shy of qualification. Adding an 0-for-7 to his totals still leaves him with the league’s highest average.
***The Mariners (42-47) have lost 10 of their last 13 overall and nine of their last 10 at home.
***Cruz leads the American League with 68 RBIs.
***Cruz and Cano will depart after the game for Miami to join the American League team for the All-Star Game on Tuesday as reserves.
It was 23 years ago Sunday — July 9, 1994 — that shortstop Alex Rodriguez, the first overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, recorded his first major-league hit. He had two singles in four at-bats in a 7-4 victory at Boston.
Rodriguez made his major-league debut a day earlier. He finished his career last season with 3,115 hits, which ranks 20th on MLB all-time list. His first 966 hits came from 1994-2000 with the Mariners.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners