Breaking Down the Mariners, Week By Week: Week Two

Kip ArneyCorrespondent IApril 20, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 12: Endy Chavez #10 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics  during a Major League Baseball game on April 12, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

This is more of what was to be expected. After two weeks in the books, the Mariners still find themselves above .500 and atop the American League West at 8-5. But some faults began to crack through the surprising start and flaws are being noticed.

The Mariners went 3-3 this week, taking their opening home series against division rival Anaheim two games to one.

Following the Angels, Safeco Field was invaded by the Detroit Tigers who handed Seattle their first series loss of the season taking two out of three.

Biggest reason for the less than stellar play, offense.

Last week I wrote about how the Mariners were fourth in the American League in batting average and were getting clutch two-out RBI along while scoring during all parts of the game. The law of averages balanced themselves out this week.

With the return of Ichiro Suzuki to the lineup, fans were hoping to see more small ball and runs being generated by the handful. But it seems like the Mariner bats were put to sleep minus two occasions on separate nights when for one inning, the M's put on a offensive onslaught.

As a team, Seattle hit .255 this past week, being dragged down by infielders Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez. The top two RBI men returning from last year's squad combined for just six hits and batted .140 over the two series.

The overall lack of offense dropped the Mariner's ranking to 11th in the AL. Even worse is that the team's on-base percentage is dead last at .308 due in large part to being last in walks with only 31.

Two of the teams with lower batting averages are the before mentioned Angels and the Oakland Athletics, teams the Mariners have already beaten five out of six times, which could be a result of why the Mariner pitching has been so dominant.

After a week of clutch hitting with two outs and producing a third of their RBI in that situation, the Mariners laid an egg this week and produced no two out RBI. And they also had trouble scoring runs out of the gate.

During innings one through three in each of the six games, they only scored a grand total of two runs in 18 innings. During the six game span, they left 46 men on base.

Endy Chavez continued his hot hitting and had hit safely in 12 of the M's first 13 games. On the season, Chavez is sixth in the AL with a .392 average and has more at-bats than anyone whose ranked above him.

He also blasted his first home run of the year in a crucial spot tying the game against Anaheim after the previous half inning the Angels had taken the lead.

I know it's not their style of play but a few more home runs would be nice to see. They've only hit nine of them coming off the bats of seven different players.

The only positive offensive trend I could find was that when the lead off man got on base to start an inning, he ended up scoring. 17 times, the Mariners would get the first batter on and eight of those times, he crossed home plate. That's a .471 percentage.

On the season, M's have done this at a .387 rate (12-for-31), which is a compliment to the small ball style of play.

The pitching is what has allowed them to stay afloat at the top of the division.

The Mariners still hold the top spot in the American League with a team ERA of 3.01. Starters Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, and Chris Jakubauskas in his first major league start all pitched at least five innings and gave up two or less earned runs during the week.

Combine that with a bullpen who on the week had a combined ERA of 2.29 in 19.2 innings equals success. That is if the offense could help them out every once in awhile.

On the year, Mariner pitchers have given up just five home runs. There's already five pitchers alone in the major leagues who have given up at least that many.

Coming into the year, questions surrounded the closer like, who was it going to be? After reliever Brandon Morrow made his announcement that in the bullpen was where he felt more comfortable, he's locked down a position that many fans thought wouldn't be important this season. The M's rank first in saves (five) and save opportunities (seven).

I don't think the Mariner pitching will hold up as well as it has been. I think more than anything, they're a product of a weak division. But in the end, all they really have to be is better than three teams to make the playoffs. Anaheim, Oakland, and the Texas Rangers.

8-5 still gives them the second best record in the league but after an opening week run differential of plus 10, they follow that up with an even run differential against more quality opponents.

The Mariner's host a three game series with the Tampa Bay Rays starting Tuesday, April 21st, before heading to Anaheim for three games. The Anaheim series will begin a stretch of 15 of 20 games being on the road.

Offensive Player of the Week: Endy Chavez - 9 for 22 (.409) while hitting his first home run of the year. This is Chavez second POW.

Pitcher of the Week: Jarrod Washburn - Pitched six innings while giving up only two runs on four hits and walking none in an 11-3 Mariner victory. On the season, Washburn is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA.