As has been customary in recent years, the Mariners are already seeing a lot of left-handed pitchers, something that should continue through the season with the lineup being heavy with lefty hitters.
So far, the 2-2 M’s have had their issues against southpaws. In 89 plate appearances, they’re batting .160 with a .641 OPS and nine runs scored vs. lefties. By comparison, Seattle has a .356 average, 1.093 OPS amd 14 runs scores in only 65 plate appearances against righties. Small sample size, of course, but still not much reason for opponents to leave right-handers in games against the Mariners’ lefties.
“Teams are going to throw left-handers at us when they can based on our lineup and kind of how it’s designed,” said manager Scott Servais on Saturday afternoon, hours before his team was set to face another lefty starter, Oakland’s Rich Hill. “We gotta get the right-handers going a little bit.”
One player Seattle hopes gets going soon is Franklin Gutierrez, who is a known lefty killer. Last year he posted a .317 average, .973 OPS and eight homers in 112 plate appearances against southpaws. In the first week of the 2016 campaign, though, he’s been ice cold. He’s 0 for 6 with two walks in four strikeouts, likely feeling the after-effects of a flu that put him out of action for five-plus days late in spring training.
Any illness, bump or bruise Gutierrez endures is compounded by his ankylosing spondilytis, an inflammatory disease that put him at a career crossroads a few years ago.
“Sometimes it’s kind of like starting all over again,” Servais said of getting sick in spring training. “I think that was probably the biggest thing, got him into a little bit of a funk, but he’s a pro. He’ll get out of it.
“He just really hasn’t got it going. He struggled a little bit at the end of spring. I know he and (hitting coach Edgar Martinez) are working hard, looking at a lot of video, trying to get his timing down.”
• Steve Cishek took the loss in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the A’s after giving up a solo homer to Chris Coghlan to break a tie in the ninth inning, but Servais said it wasn’t all that bad an outing for the Mariners closer. “Outside of one pitch I thought Steve threw the ball fine last night, he just made a mistake and didn’t quite get the ball in enough,” said Servais, who added that there was “no reason” to hold out Cishek even though the ninth inning was a non-save situation. By the way, the Coghlan homer was the first run allowed by the Seattle bullpen this season, a group that seemed the least stable part of the roster out of spring training.
• Here’s Saturday’s lineup against Oakland. Nathan Karns is starting, making his regular-season Mariners debut as their No. 5 pitcher. The game airs at 6:10 on 710 ESPN Seattle, with the pregame show beginning at 5.