Even in the glow of a 6-3 road trip, Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon noticed signs of wear from his starting pitchers and indicated Monday that he’d like to do something about it.
About two hours before the opener of this six-game homestand, he did. The Mariners announced they were backing up their rotation in a way that will buy ace Felix Hernandez (13-4, 2.07 ERA) a couple of extra days off.
The team announced that Hernandez’s next scheduled start will be pushed from Wednesday to Friday. The Mariners did not immediately name a new starter for the Wednesday afternoon game against the Texas Rangers.
Then after an off day Thursday, the top of the rotation will line up for the three-game series with the Washington Nationals: Hernandez on Friday, Chris Young on Saturday, and Hisashi Iwakuma on Sunday.
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Hernandez’s last win came Aug. 11 versus the Toronto Blue Jays at Safeco Field, and since then he has a loss and a no decision without getting out of the sixth inning in either start.
In the Mariners’ just-completed three-game series sweep at the Boston Red Sox, all three wins went to the bullpen.
“I think you probably saw a little bit of the grind,” McClendon said. “… Our starting pitching was not very stellar. There’s probably been a little wear. We’ll try to make some adjustments, keep our eye on the future a little bit.”
McClendon also said the Mariners would likely bring in a couple of pitchers for spot starts once the roster expands in September. He indicated the likely additions would be Taijuan Walker and Erasmo Ramirez, both currently with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
ACKLEY STAYS HOT
Outfielder Dustin Ackley began this homestand on a streak that saw him drive in 17 runs over 17 games, with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and a .508 slugging percentage.
Since July 1, he was hitting .317, compared to .214 from March 31-June 30.
“I think just not missing pitches,” Ackley said. “I think that’s what it was early on in the year when I was struggling: I would get pitches to hit, and I would just miss them. Now it seems like I’ve been able to capitalize on the 2-0, the 2-1 — the hitter’s counts — and I pretty much credit it to that.”
More specifically, Ackley said he is looking for fastballs, catching up to them when they come, and adjusting well enough when they don’t.
“I think when I’ve done that here in the past I’ve hit the offspeed (pitches) a lot better,” he said. “… It’s not something I got away from. I just think my swing, those early months, wasn’t where it needed to be. It wasn’t that I wasn’t looking for fastballs, it’s that I wasn’t hitting them, and my swing wasn’t in position to do that. Once I started tinkering with some stuff and just figuring out how to drive the ball the other way and staying on pitches, it just all seemed to work out better.”
CANO RETURNS TO LINEUP
Second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the Mariners’ lineup Monday, one day and one cross-country flight after leaving the game in the third inning at Boston due to flu symptoms. Cano headed into the Texas series third in the American League with 155 hits and fourth with a .326 batting average.
The Mariners and Rangers start the middle game of their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday at Safeco Field. Texas will send right-hander Nick Martinez (3-9, 5.13 ERA) to the mound to face off against Seattle left-hander James Paxton (3-1, 2.20). Root Sports will broadcast the game.