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MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - INSIDE PITCH
After a third sweep in four home series since his return, Mariners manager Eric Wedge is beginning to look like a sitting duck.
A recent health scare ended any momentum he had back in July, and it also seemed to quiet the talk about whether he should be brought back for another season. But the 6-14 record since Wedge's return should have people in Seattle asking again whether it might be time for a change.
The only reason Wedge hasn't taken too much heat from the critics is that his team is so far off the sports map that not even a GPS could find it. With the Seattle Seahawks entertaining Super Bowl expectations, the University of Washington football team off to a good start and the soccer-mad city selling out Sounders FC games, the Mariners have fallen somewhere between competitive Parcheesi and marbles on the competitive landscape lately.
Without much interest in Mariners baseball, Wedge has rather quietly pulled this team through one of its worst stretches in recent years -- and that's saying a lot. Six wins in 20 games and three sweeps in four home series might be enough to get most managers fired, but the topic rarely comes up in Seattle these days.
Wedge has been admired for his toughness and competitive nature throughout his tenure with the Mariners, and both the front office and fans have given him a long leash because of the youth and lack of talent he's had to manage over his three years in Seattle. The July 22 stroke only added to the sympathy factor, and when he returned on Aug. 23, there appeared to be no chance Wedge would lose his job.
But it's difficult to ignore the recent stretch, which has been as baffling to Wedge as to anyone. The lowly Houston Astros just swept Seattle at Safeco Field, and they did it by an aggregate score of 29-7. With road trips to St. Louis and Detroit up next, things don't look likely to get better anytime soon.
Wedge was behind the proverbial 8-ball from the time he arrived in Seattle with a youthful roster bereft of talent, and his job was to stay the course while the young Mariners grew up. He's done that without complaint, and as recently as July it looked as if the organization was well on its way to eventually becoming the playoff contender it hopes to be.
But a 6-14 run that includes just two wins over a stretch of 12 home games has this franchise back on the skids. Matching last year's 75-win total seems highly unlikely, and this will probably be the third time in three years that Wedge has managed a fourth-place team in the American League West.
All indications are that he could be the right man to see this thing through, and the status of general manager Jack Zduriencik is as big a factor as any in Wedge's future.
But the recent string of games has done very little to give Wedge a bright future. The Mariners might be the proverbial tree falling in the forest, but at some point someone is going to find the wreckage.
MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost four
PAST 10 GAMES: 3-7
NEXT: Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma, 12-6, 2.97) at Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, 16-9, 3.03)
--SS Brad Miller was hitting .336 (37 of 110) when leading off an inning after his single to lead off the bottom of the first Wednesday. He went on to lead off the third with a groundout to second base, dropping that average to .333, but still had two of Seattle's five hits for the night.
--RHP Brandon Maurer made his first start since May 30 on Wednesday, when the Mariners pulled him out of the bullpen to fill in for RHP Felix Hernandez (oblique strain). Maurer didn't last long, going just three innings while allowing five runs off seven hits. As a starter this season, Maurer is now 2-8 with a 7.39 ERA.
--LHP Bobby LaFromboise pitched two perfect innings of relief Wednesday, and he has yet to give up a run since being recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 7. In two previous stints with the Mariners this season, LaFromboise could barely get anyone out -- so perhaps his experience is beginning to pay off.
--RHP Tom Wilhelmsen may have taken a step toward earning back his closer's job. Wilhelmsen had another strong outing in middle relief Wednesday, when he walked the first batter he faced before striking out three in a row. His three strikeouts matched a season high, with April 17 being the last time he struck out that many in a game. On back-to-back days, Wilhelmsen has now thrown three scoreless innings without allowing a hit. He's allowed just one hit and no runs in four September appearances since getting recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
--RHP Hisashi Iwakuma is slated to make his first career start against St. Louis when Seattle plays the Cardinals on Friday night, and that could be a good thing for the Mariners. Over his 14 starts when facing a team for the first time this season, Iwakuma is 5-1 with a 3.45 ERA. On the other side of the coin, Iwakuma owns an 0-1 record and 6.14 ERA in his first two starts against NL opponents this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What I don't like seeing is the same thing over and over and over again. And with a few guys, that's what I'm seeing right now. What you need to see is progress." -- Manager Eric Wedge, after Wednesday's 6-1 defeat against Houston extended his team's losing streak to four.
MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Felix Hernandez (minor oblique strain) hasn't pitched since Sept. 2, and he missed his Sept. 11 start. If a throwing session scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 14-15 doesn't go as expected, there is a chance he could be shut down for the remainder of the season.
--RHP Stephen Pryor (torn right lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 15, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 17. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on July 19, but he was shut down for the remainder of the season in August.
RHP Felix Hernandez
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
LHP Joe Saunders
RHP Taijuan Walker
RHP Erasmo Ramirez
LHP James Paxton
RHP Danny Farquhar (closer)
RHP Tom Wilhelmsen
RHP Yoervis Medina
LHP Charlie Furbush
LHP Oliver Perez
LHP Lucas Luetge
RHP Brandon Maurer
RHP Chance Ruffin
RHP Hector Noesi
LHP Bobby LaFromboise
1B Justin Smoak
2B Nick Franklin
SS Brad Miller
3B Kyle Seager
DH Kendrys Morales
INF Carlos Triunfel
LF Franklin Gutierrez
CF Michael Saunders
RF Abraham Almonte
OF Raul Ibanez
OF Endy Chavez
OF/INF Dustin Ackley