Mariners Insider Blog

Wrapping up the Mariners road trip

Interleague play is finally over and instead of getting healthy against the National League, the Mariners finished with a losing record for the first time in 12 seasons, going 8-10. They also went 1-5 against a Padres team that has the second worst team in all of baseball.

From my game story ...

After years of success against National League opponents – particularly their “natural rivals,” the San Diego Padres – the Mariners struggled in interleague play this season.

With Sunday’s unremarkable 2-0 loss to the Padres, the Mariners finished with an 8-10 record against NL opponents this season. It snapped a streak of 12 consecutive seasons the Mariners were .500 or better during interleague play. Only the New York Yankees had a longer streak (15 seasons and counting).

Worse, Sunday’s loss meant the Mariners (31-43) went 1-5 against the Padres, who have the second-worst record in big league baseball at 25-47.

As bad as the Mariners have been at Safeco Field, they are ready to get home and play games with a designated hitter.

“I’m looking forward to getting back home and getting another bat in the lineup,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I’m just looking forward to getting home and playing some good baseball.”

It wasn’t as if the Mariners were awful while going 2-4 on this six-game trip with stops in Arizona and San Diego.

With the exception of what Padres starter Edinson Volquez and the San Diego bullpen did to them Sunday, the Mariners hit on the trip. They batted .276 with 18 extra-base hits, scoring 33 runs.Hector Noesi was decent. He was certainly better than he's been in the past few starts. But we've seen this before from him. If he can put together a few good starts then we'll know if he's figuring some things out. I only recall a few poor pitches when he was ahead in the count. To be fair, he also wasn't pitching against the 1927 Yankees.

One player who is struggling of late is Dustin Ackley. From my notebook ...

After hitting .273 with a .348 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage in 90 games last season, much was expected of Ackley.

At the moment, he is falling well short of those lofty expectations. Besides his sub-.250 batting average, his on-base percentage (.319) is down slightly and his slugging percentage (.338) has fallen even further.

“I still think it’s more about his approach and mindset,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Recognizing what they’re doing to him. He’s going to have to make some adjustments. I know he’s in the process of trying to do that.”

Ackley went 4-for-21 on the trip with six strikeouts. For the month of June, he has 16 hits in 73 at-bats (.219) with 23 strikeouts and two extra base hits – a pair of doubles.

The strikeouts are a little surprising, and alarming.

This season, he has struck out 66 times in 274 at-bats. Last season, he struck out 79 times in 333 at-bats. Similar, but not progress.

“He’s not going to be a guy that’s going to strike out like he is now,” Wedge said. “He just has too much barrel to the bat, his hands are good. They’re pitching him tough. He had a good break-in year last year and they’re pitching him tough. He just has to make that adjustment and take it away from them.Also I forgot to link it yesterday ... but John McGrath has this excellent column about Ichiro Suzuki and his future.

But he might think about sitting down for a talk with Edgar Martinez.

On Aug. 10, 2004, Martinez announced he was retiring at the end of the season. The decision shouldn’t have required a soul search that wrenched his gut – he was 41, with a contract scheduled to expire – but the thought of never again swinging a bat in a big-league game had to be harrowing for the one of the best hitters of his generation.

Martinez wasn’t consumed by statistics, but surely he realized that his .258 batting average in August was well below (54 points, to be precise) a career batting average that turned out to be .312.

Ichiro, on the other hand, can recite the statistical splits of each of his 12 seasons with the Mariners, and has to know his .270 batting average is well below (54 points, to be precise) his career batting average of .324.

Ichiro turns 39 in October. Although durability isn’t an issue, he’s lost a step essential for somebody who thrives on beating out infield grounders, and he’s not getting it back. Ichiro’s decline from 2010, his last All-Star season, mirrors Martinez’s decline after his last All-Star season, in 2003.

Martinez retired with the same regal style that distinguished him as a player. Will Ichiro follow Edgar’s cue?