Mariners' win over Angels doesn't cloak team's woes

Mariners' win over Angels doesn't cloak team's woes
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta andSeattle's Mike Zunino watch his bunt attempt pop up in the third inning Friday night. Zunino was called out for interference on the play. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

As much as the Angels have underachieved, as much as they've struggled to score runs and live up to lofty expectations, they could glance into the opposing dugout Friday night and take some solace in the fact that things could be worse.

They could be the Seattle Mariners.

You remember them, don't you? The team that fell one win short of the playoffs last season, bolstered its offense over the winter, returned most of a pitching staff that led the American League with a 3.17 earned-run average in 2014 and was a trendy pick to not only win the division but reach the World Series?

Well, things haven't exactly gone as planned for the Mariners, who even after Friday night's 3-1 victory in Angel Stadium are 34-40 and in fourth place in the AL West, eight games behind Houston.

"It's definitely surprising, especially with guys like [Nelson] Cruz, [Robinson] Cano and now [Mark] Trumbo," Angels pitcher Hector Santiago said. "You don't expect them to be struggling with the lineup and pitching staff they have. It just happens in baseball. Guys didn't expect us to be .500 at this point."

The Mariners filled a gaping hole in the cleanup spot by signing Cruz to a four-year, $57-million deal, and the veteran slugger has put together an All-Star season, batting .306 with 19 homers and 45 runs batted in, including an RBI double that gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning Friday night.

But even with Cruz, Seattle entered Friday ranked last in the AL in runs (248), average (.231), on-base percentage (.293) and average with runners in scoring position (.209), and they were 14th in slugging (.373).

Cano, the second baseman in the second year of a 10-year, $240-million deal, has been so bad — he entered Friday with a .246 average, .284 OBP, .346 slugging percentage, three homers, 23 RBIs and 50 strikeouts — he's been booed at home.


Trumbo, the former Angels slugger who was acquired from Arizona on June 3, is hitting .167 with one homer, five RBIs, 18 strikeouts and two walks in 18 games with his new club.

Like the Angels, Seattle has gotten little production from the bottom of the order, where catcher Mike Zunino (.163), outfielder Dustin Ackley (.203) and shortstop Brad Miller (.231) have hit.

A Felix Hernandez-led rotation entered Friday with the fifth-best ERA (.390) in the league, but the bullpen has regressed from 2014, with a ninth-best 3.68 ERA, and closer Fernando Rodney's ERA jumped from 2.85 in 69 games in 2014 to 5.70 in 31 games this season.

"This team is tremendously deep offensively and on the pitching side, too," Trumbo said. "So far it's been inconsistent. A lot of the wins have been really good wins, and some of the losses have gotten away from us."

The low point came during a 2-9 homestand in late May and early June in which Seattle became the fourth team in major league history to score no more than three runs during any game of a homestand of 10 games or longer.

"Guys who are supposed to perform have to perform," Manager Lloyd McClendon said after that stretch. "The fact is, if Cano, Cruz and [Kyle] Seager don't hit, then we're not going to win. And if they continue to not hit, then you'll be talking to someone else. I'll be driving a garbage truck. That's the way it goes."

Cano is warming. He hit his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot about 15 rows into the right-field bleachers, to lead off the eighth Friday night and is hitting .333 (10 for 30) with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs in his last eight games.

And Seager is hitting .262 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs.

"They had very high expectations, but they still have a chance," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "They've done some things better as the season has gone along. They're still a very dangerous team."

Twitter: @MikeDiGiovanna