Seattle has scored just 60 runs in July, which is the fewest of any team in the American League. It's the main reason why the Mariners have an 8-11 record for the month. But Scott Servais sees signs of optimism.
ANAHEIM — It’s rarely something manager Scott Servais does during a game. But given his team’s struggles on offense in the month of July, he decided to keep track of the number of balls that his hitters were “barreled up” as Friday night’s game at Angels Stadium transpired.
Unfortunately for Servais and the Mariners, several of those hard hit balls ended up in the gloves of Angels’ defenders in a 4-3 extra-inning loss.
Was it at least comforting to know that they were hitting the ball hard?
“It’s very comforting, other than the fact that I was keeping track on my card,” he said. “I think it’s the first time all year I’ve done it. But I think there were six or seven balls that were hit very well that they made good plays on. It’s the big leagues. It’s going to happen.”
Kyle Seager’s deep drive to center that was snared on a leaping grab by Mike Trout and Chris Herrmann’s hard ground ball to the right side with runners on first and second that was gloved by a diving Albert Pujols cost the Mariners runs.
“Those balls don’t get caught, it really changes the game,” Servais said. “But there are some good signs.”
Any sign of offense has to be good for the Mariners considering their abysmal showing at the plate in July. They came into Saturday’s game with a .232/.291/.356 slash line in the month of July. They’ve scored 60 runs in 19 games for a 3.16 runs per game average. No team in the American League has scored fewer runs (60) or hit fewer homers (15) in July, while Seattle’s batting average and on-base plus slugging percentage during the month are second worst in the AL.
The Mariners have scored three runs or fewer in 13 games in the month, losing nine of them. Overall, they are 18-30 when score three runs or fewer on the season.
“The month of July, we’ve struggled,” Servais said. “At certain times, we’ve been a little anxious. You see some at-bats where guys are maybe trying to do too much and maybe get the big hit and start chasing balls out of their zone instead of really driving balls. We haven’t been consistent running good at-bats up there to keep that line moving. We haven’t five or six really good at-bats in a row to put a big number up there in an inning. We just haven’t been able to do it.”
The Mariners by month:
- March/April: .256 avg/.316 obp/.441 slg,, 4.74 runs per game, 16-11 record
- May: .261/.330/.394, 4.06 runs per game, 19-11 record
- June: .265/.321/.433, 4.5 runs per game, 19-9 record
- July: .233/.291/.356, 3.16 runs per game, 8-11 record
Dee Gordon is the only regular hitter with a batting average (.333) over .300 or even .280 for the month. Nelson Cruz homered in Friday’s win and the Mariners hope that will get him going. He’s hitting .212 with a .671 OPS and just two homers in the month. The ultra-consistent Mitch Haniger is hitting just. 200 with a .653 OPS and three extra-base hits in the month, while Jean Segura is hitting .233 with a .584 OPS and four extra-base hits. The three All-Stars have been scuffling since before going to Washington D.C. for the mid-summer classic. Regression and slumps are expected, but having it happen to multiple key players at once is an issue.
“If you look at what we’ve done in certain segments of the season and you want to look at it in monthly breakdowns, we were very good in the month of May, we had a really good month of June and we’ve cooled off in July,” Servais said. “As baseball goes, it will turn. It really will. I thought we saw some good signs last night.”
Will Pax’s back allow him to be back?
James Paxton woke up on Saturday morning with no discomfort in his lower back, which is a good thing for the Mariners and the big lefty.
After throwing a 32-pitch bullpen session on Friday, Paxton’s return to the rotation hinged on him having no discomfort in his lower back the following day.
“No issues,” he said before heading out to play catch. “Unless something changes, I should be ready to go for Monday.”
Paxton would face the AL West leading Astros in the homestand opener at Safeco Field.
“All signs are pointing to him making the start on Monday,” Servais said. “I’m anxious to get him back out there. He should be good to go. We’ll monitor him. I don’t think you’ll see him throw 110 to 115 pitches, but it will be good to get him back.”