Left out: Mariners scuffling against southpaws

Left out: Mariners scuffling against southpaws

ARLINGTON -- It's not hard to figure out why the Mariners have struggled with left-handed pitchers this season when you look at a lineup heavy on lefties and with several right-handed counterbalances struggling to contribute.

Seattle is 20-28 against southpaw starters compared to 48-34 against right-handers going into Monday's series opener against the Rangers and the offensive numbers are telling.

The Mariners line as a team is .247/.313/.418 in 1,547 at-bats against left-handers this year, compared to .262/.330/.435 in 2,904 at-bats vs. right-handers.

Much of that is tied to the production of the Mariners' big three in the middle of the order, with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager both left-handed hitters. Cano has hit .320/.376/.585 against righties and Seager is at .321/.404/.564. But against southpaws, those numbers fall to .267/.308/.443 for Cano and .234/.294/.439 for Seager.

Nelson Cruz is the counterbalance as the big right-handed stick in the cleanup spot, but he's actually hit just as well against right-handers (.285/.360/.500) as he has against southpaws (.277/.366/.591).

Meanwhile, other players who were supposed to help out against lefties -- like switch-hitting shortstop Ketel Marte (.221), right-handed slugger Dae-Ho Lee (.226) and recently demoted left fielder Norichika Aoki (.207) -- haven't produced as expected in those situations.

That imbalance was exposed in last weekend's White Sox series when the Mariners ran into three straight quality southpaws in Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. The Mariners beat Sale in a 3-1 game, but then lost the next two and totaled just seven runs in the three outings.

Things won't get any easier when Seattle faces Rangers standout Cole Hamels on Tuesday, then another southpaw in Martin Perez on Wednesday.

"That was three really good left-handed starters that the White Sox ran out there," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "It wasn't just your average middle-of-the-pack lefties. Those are guys that are among the better ones in the league and we'll see another one here (Tuesday) night. It's a stretch we're in.

"But I thought [Franklin Gutierrez] swung the bat better there," he said. "Dae-Ho, not so much. We need to get him going, he'll play [Tuesday] and see how it goes. We had chances to win a couple of those. We won the Sale game and had a chance on Sunday, we just didn't get the big hit at the end."

Cano says the Mariners can't worry about the big picture right now, but just go out and compete each night and see where that takes them.

"Every series we're playing lefties," he said. "But there are no excuses. We have a lot of lefty [hitters]. But as a team, I think we're pretty good. We just have to take it game-by-game and not think about where we're going to be in 10-15 games, just play the game hard and try to win games without looking ahead."


• Triple-A Tacoma outfielder Stefen Romero and designated hitter Dan Vogelbach were named to 2016 All-Pacific Coast League team. It's the first time the Rainiers have had more than one selection since 2001 when first baseman Todd Betts, shortstop Ramon Vasquez and pitcher Denny Stark were all honored.

Vogelbach split his season between two PCL teams, the Iowa Cubs and the Rainiers, and currently leads the league in walks (90) and is third in RBIs (90) and on-base percentage (.417). He's totaled 21 homers and hit .295 in 127 games. Romero has put up a .314/.371/.558 line with 21 homers and 84 RBIs in 102 games.

• Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday's series opener with the Angels at Safeco Field. A special ticket promotion is available that includes a Mariners "Why Not You" Foundation T-shirt and a $12 donation to Wilson's foundation. Tickets are $29 for View Level and $46 for Main Level and are available online only at Mariners.com/WhyNotYou. The deadline to purchase tickets through this special offer is 5 p.m. PT on Thursday.

• The Mariners extended their contract with the Class A Clinton franchise for two years, through 2018. The Iowa club has been a Mariners affiliate since 2009.

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.