The Mariners’ first six home games of the season did not go as smoothly as hoped, but the 1-5 record they posted during the homestand wasn’t enough to shake the faith of general manager Jerry Dipoto.
“Really not a lot of concern,” Dipoto said when asked on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore” about his reaction to the homestand performance. “I would have rather been 5-1 than 1-5, but at the end of the day I look at it from a different perspective. … I look at it that we’re two games back with 153 to play.”
That’s not to say Dipoto isn’t understanding to fans who saw the five-game home losing streak after winning two of three in Texas as a sign that the Mariners are in for another rough season, though.
“We feel like this is a good baseball team. I believe in this group, Scott (Servais) believes in this group, I hope the fans can embrace this group. We didn’t give them much reason, to be honest with you, in our homestand,” he said. “You can view the glass as half-full or half-empty, and with 153 left to play I’m gonna take the full, because I think this is still the same group that was on the field in Texas that got everybody excited, and I think we’ll do it again.”
Seattle’s scuffling offense features only three players hitting higher than .231 entering this weekend’s series with the Yankees – including Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Ketel Marte and Adam Lind all below .200 – but Dipoto believes the track records of the Mariners hitters point to the widespread struggles getting figured out soon.
“We have more than enough offense that once it starts clicking… I can’t tell you what our offense is gonna look like come October, but I can tell you that we’re better than we’ve shown, and we’ve got players with history that suggest that we’re better than we’ve shown,” he said. “Eventually the train will get on track.”
Here’s a few other notes from Dipoto’s weekly visit with “Danny, Dave and Moore”:
• Lee giving Mariners needed power. Dipoto is quite pleased that the Mariners decided to give a shot to 33-year-old Korean first baseman Dae-Ho Lee, who was the hero of the Wednesday’s win with a 10th-inning walk-off homer. “He had an up-and-down spring for us but we saw enough with his ability to stay on left-handed pitching, and his history in both Korea and Japan suggested it would be a good fit for us,” Dipoto said. “He had a good way about him on the field and there was really nothing to be lost if we ventured into the season and gave him an opportunity, and so far the results have been pretty good.” The results include a pair of home runs in Safeco Field, a place known for giving right-handed power hitters fits. “The ability to hit the ball out of our ballpark to left field consistently is something that not a lot of right-handed hitters have, so if we can tap into a little bit of that with Dae-Ho, then great.”
• Walker showing maturation. Mariners 23-year-old starter Taijuan Walker has a nice 2.25 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in a pair of six-inning starts despite encountering trouble in the first frame of each outing. Dipoto said the fact that Walker shook off those long innings are a sign of his progress as a pitcher. ” I thought he did a great job (Wednesday) of kind of gathering himself after a rough first inning. That’s the sign of a maturing pitcher,” he said. “An important thing to take from it is that Taijuan put himself in the position to get a win.” He showed that maturation while still flashing the exceptional stuff that has caused experts to peg him as a future ace, too. “For a guy who was trying to figure himself out in the first inning, to finish the way he did by just turning up the volume – most of the day he was 92, 93, and that last hitter when he had a chance to put a finish on it he dialed it up to 95, 97 – I think gave the club a real strong feeling.”
• Cishek back in closer form. Steve Cishek has yet to pitch in a save situation even though he’s the Mariners closer, but he’s looked plenty good in five innings of work over four appearances. The 29-year-old righty has a 1.80 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and four strikeouts a season removed from losing the closer job in Miami, with a solo homer given up against Oakland in the home opener his only blemish. “We’ve seen this from him in the spring. The velocity is up from where it was a year ago. His slider command is improving with every day he throws,” Dipoto said. “I think what we’ve seen from him in the first handful of outings, one poorly-timed fastball to Chris Coghlan on Friday night aside, he’s been really good. He’s attacked the zone in each of his outings. … We have confidence he’s gonna deliver more than not.”