SEATTLE -- If you're searching for answers, there's no big mystery why the Mariners got swept in a three-game series by the previously struggling Twins this weekend at Safeco Field. A simple check of the box scores shows Seattle's starting pitchers -- Felix Hernandez, Wade Miley and Taijuan Walker -- combining for a 10.05 ERA and allowing seven home runs in the trio of losses.
The Mariners have the lowest ERA in the American League at 3.37, but their three starters surrendered 20 hits and 16 runs in 14 1/3 innings to a Twins team that still has the worst record in the AL at 15-34.
Walker had the latest setback, lasting just 4 1/3 frames while allowing five runs on six hits -- including three home runs -- in Sunday's 5-4 loss in front of 33,748 frustrated fans.
"We didn't get good pitching in this series from our starters," said manager Scott Servais, "and that's key for any team to keep anything going, momentum-wise. Starting pitching drives it. Our guys have struggled a little bit. It's going to happen, and unfortunately it all happened at the same time in this series.
"The Twins played good. They swung the bats well. We couldn't get a whole lot going until late today offensively. But it was one of those series. They beat us."
Indeed they did, knocking Seattle out of first place in the AL West for the first time since May 15 -- which happens to be the day the Mariners were swept by the Angels in another three-game struggle at Safeco.
The home stumbles are an uncomfortable pattern, given the Mariners are 18-7 on the road and 10-14 in Seattle. Walker credited the Twins for the latest outcome.
"They had a really good series," Walker said. "They're just really hot right now. They're hitting everything. They're hitting mistakes, they're hitting good pitches, and we just have to shake this series off and be ready. The offense did a good job. We came back and lost two of these games by one run. If we keep a couple balls in the park, it's a different story."
Servais said there doesn't seem to be any overriding theme to the home struggles. The Mariners haven't lost a road series yet, but they have dropped four of eight home series and been swept by the A's, Angels and Twins.
"They've all been a little different for whatever reason," Servais said of the sweeps. "We didn't get much going early in the year in the early one, the Angels got us late in games, and in this series, there were a number of different things that didn't go our way or we didn't make happen.
"I can't put my finger on one particular thing. We just didn't play well in those series."
The Mariners do seem slowed by injuries to Leonys Martin and Ketel Marte, their two fastest players, who both went on the disabled list in the past week.
"We've got a couple guys out right now, which certainly affects things," Servais said. "But it gives an opportunity for other players to step up, and that's what you've got to do. It takes more than 25 guys to get deep into the season and play meaningful games. That's where we're going to be, there's no doubt in my mind. Along the way, we're going to have a few bumps in the road. We've got a little bump in the road now, but we'll be OK."
More accurately, the Mariners have hit a little bump at home. Perhaps they should take some cues from the Twins, given Minnesota has won eight of nine games at Safeco since 2014.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.