Mariners lose finale 12-3 as Rangers complete series sweep

The situation is beginning to look seriously worrying for the Seattle Mariners, as they drop back below the .500 mark on the season.

There is no more using the excuse that it’s early in the season – the Mariners are looking like a team in trouble. When even their starting pitching is struggling, how can they expect to remain in contention for a playoff spot?

Texas showed exactly who is boss, as they beat down Seattle on Sunday 12-3 to complete the series sweep. The Mariners dropped to 29-30 on the season and as of Monday morning sit 9.5 games behind the division-leading Rangers.

Highlighting the M’s struggles on Sunday, Bryce Miller had his second consecutive nightmare outing. His history-making start to his Major League career is now well and truly behind him.

Welcome to the real world

Miller lasted just 2.1 innings on Sunday afternoon, in easily the shortest start of his career to date. He allowed eight hits, two walks and — most importantly — seven runs, to put Seattle in an early 7-0 hole from which they could not recover.

The majority of the damage took place in the third inning. Texas scored five runs, to chase Miller from the game.

On some levels the 24-year-old was unfortunate, as the victim of several soft hits. Regardless, he didn’t help his cause by manufacturing just three missed swings, as he struck out only two batters.

Miller was well aware of where he went wrong on the day. Speaking afterwards to the media, he said:

“Obviously, the results were similar to last week (against the Yankees). (The Rangers) were aggressive (early). Even the first hit of the game, it was a good pitch, but I have to be better with two strikes. I had a lot of two-strike (counts) I just didn’t finish. … So moving forward, I have to be better on those counts and give the team a chance to win.”

A need to mix it up more

As part of Miller’s efforts to give Seattle a chance to win, he can no longer rely on his fastball. He needs to develop more consistency with his curveball and/or slider, in order to produce better results.

Mariners manager Scott Servais alluded to this in his post-game comments about Miller’s fastball. He said:”

“Not quite the same velocity or life on the fastball that we saw early on (in Miller’s first few starts). That happens, young guys going through this for the first time.”

As a result of his two straight poor starts, Miller has seen his ERA rise dramatically from 1.15 to 4.46. Sunday was particularly tough for him, pitching for the first time in the Majors in his home state and in front of a large group of family and friends.

If nothing else, this adversity is something the 2021 fourth round draft pick can learn from. He said:

“I just need to be better and finish counts. That’s the main takeaway from today. I feel good with the off-speed locations. If they’re on the fastball, I need to mix better and finish them off better.”

No answer for the best offense in the Majors

With Miller leaving early, it was up to one of the best bullpens in baseball to limit the bleeding. In the end if was Trevor Gott who suffered most, giving up Seattle’s other five runs in the sixth inning.

The only defense — if you can call it that for the Mariners — is the Rangers have the top-scoring offense in the Majors. Sunday saw Texas score at least 10 runs for a major league-leading 16th time in 58 games.

Servais was under no illusion about the Rangers being the better team. He said:

“We’re not playing winning baseball against top-flight teams. It’s one of the best offenses we’ve seen all year. Ton of credit there. And on the flip side, we didn’t pitch our best or play our best in this series.”

Mariners bats struggle again

In reality, even if the pitching had been better, it wouldn’t have mattered in (yet) another inept showing from the offense. You know it’s bad when two of your best bats in Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez go a combined 0-for-8 at the plate.

As much as six runs sounds good in theory, three of them came in the final inning and amounted to nothing more than consolation scores. Overall, Seattle is ranked 11th in the AL in scoring, which is quite simply not good enough for a team still looking to contend.

Servais discussed the Mariners’ offensive struggles. He said:

“It’s certainly been a struggle for us to put runs up consistently — at any point this season. We’ve had stretches here and there where we started to get it going a bit, but it’s been tough up-and-down the lineup.”

Looking ahead

As we edge closer to the halfway point of the 2023 season, Seattle sits 6.0 games back of a wild card spot in the AL. Servais appreciates the growing sense of urgency and said:

“We need to get it going, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes when you aren’t hitting it looks like you aren’t trying. The team is trying, just not executing.”

The effort of the Mariners has never been in doubt. But yes, not executing will be your undoing no matter how hard you work, or indeed how talented you are.

The Mariners are quite right to still have full belief in themselves, but if things continue on their current path, it won’t matter in the long run. Servais said:

“Baseball is really hard sometimes, and we felt that the last couple days. (There are) still a lot of games left to play. We need to get it going, but we have to use our off-day to kind of wash it off and move on.”

Next up are two games versus another talented but underachieving team, in the San Diego Padres. Logan Gilbert and George Kirby will get the starts in a series the Mariners dare lot lose, even in early June.

Where are you currently at with the Mariners? Do you still view them as serious playoff contenders, or do you believe they are destined to struggle around the .500 mark for the remainder of this season? Let us know in the comments section below.

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