SEATTLE – JP Crawford stepped forward to show a brave face after all that went wrong last month for the Seattle Mariners team that started the season with enthusiasm and optimism.
“No one likes to lose, especially the way we are now, especially a game that I think we have to win,” Crawford said. “It’s frustrating, but you can’t look down on it. You have to keep about it.”
The Mariners started the season with hopes of ending the longest playoff drought in the majors only to see those hopes dashed during the horrific 30 days they have been in last place in the American Western League.
The Mariners were 11-6 after winning four straight and leading the division on April 26. Seattle has lost 21 of 28 and 11 games behind the division-leading Houston Astros, a team coming to town Friday to start three games. series.
Seattle’s struggles have been plagued by key injuries that show deep deficiencies, poor performances by players expected to be major contributors and a sick regression by the best bullpen in baseball a year ago.
Forty -five games didn’t make the season. But the Mariners know they have to start now if they want to do what they want.
“We’re in a critical part of our future here. I think everyone realizes that,” manager Scott Servais said. “There’s no point in trying harder. You just have to go out and play and do your homework. And if everyone does their homework, we’ll be OK. Now we’re scuffling.”
Part of Seattle’s problem is how to get into the season, which is causing anger, resentment and apathy on the border due to recent losses. The Mariners are openly talking about the playoffs and how they emerged from the rebuild.
The move to bring in AL Cy Young champions Robbie Ray, All-Stars Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier and slugger Eugenio Suárez speaks volumes about that confidence.
But Ray hasn’t found Cy Young’s form from last season with apparently one blowup inning per start. Winker hit .216, nearly 100 points below where he finished last season with Cincinnati.
And for all the talk of how Seattle’s farm system has become one of the best in baseball, the number of players ready to contribute is woefully small. An ankle injury for Mitch Haniger combined with the struggles of respected prospect Jarred Kelenic resulted in a relegation for the youngster that caused Seattle’s outfield depth to be so thin that veteran Justin Upton signed on and is expected to join the team in the future.
Even Crawford’s strong start, a potential All-Star season from Ty France and the emergence of rookie Julio Rodríguez have not been enough to address a clear hole in the Seattle lineup.
Seattle’s pitching relief has also been shaky with a 4.34 ERA among relievers who are 25th in baseball and tied for 23rd with 22 homers allowed. A season ago, Seattle’s relief staff was eighth in the ERA, fourth in homers allowed and 11th in batting average against.
So now the Mariners have nothing to do with the season after a stunning 90-win campaign that stunned the city despite not being able to end the playoff drought, which began in 2001.
There are still 117 games left, but to get 90 wins now the Mariners need to play .615 (72-45) in the second period.
“We’ve got over 100 games to go. We’ve got a bunch of time. You can’t hit right now,” Crawford said. “You have to keep moving forward every day, keep preparing your way before every game and move on.”