The Mariners return from a rough road trip to host the Oakland Athletics in a weekend series at Safeco Field. And they have a new starting pitcher in the rotation.
KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel says it’s a move of desperation as the team moves farther away from a Wild Card playoff spot.
The Road Was Long
"It was 12 games in 14 days in four cities - the longest of the season," Thiel said about the Mariners' just-completed road trip.
"They came out of it with five wins and seven losses. Not terrible, but not the bounce they were hoping for because they had been slip-sliding out of the Wild Card race."
"They were still in it at the beginning (of the road trip), and now it's getting more distant simply because the season is shrinking and they're not progressing."
Bad News Mariners
"Probably the nadir of this trip was the third game of the Yankees series in New York in which they committed five errors in one inning," Thiel continued.
"It was ghastly. It was grim. It was terrible."
"Major League Baseball had not seen that kind of inning in 40 years. And, of course, the Mariners are celebrating their 40th anniversary. They have a funny way of bringing stuff to the party."
"This was definitely Bad News Bears. They lost the game 10-1. It's been hard to recover the momentum. They got swept by the Orioles in Baltimore."
"And those errors had nothing to do with pitching injuries, which has been the problem all season."
New Pitcher: Perfect Attendance
Theil said the Mariners' acquisition of Mike Leake from the St. Louis Cardinals for a minor league player is a move of desperation.
"Mike Leake is notable for one thing, which is perfect attendance," he said.
"He's 29, an eight-year Major League veteran. When he started his career in 2010, he was a pretty reliable third (or) fourth starter."
"His notable career achievement is that he has pitched in 228 games, which is second most in the National League behind Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw."
"So he shows up for work with two arms, one of which pitches reasonably well," Thiel joked.
"But in his last ten games, he's had one win, six losses and has an earned run average of seven. He's only had 31 strikeouts in those ten games."
"He's a soft tosser in the tradition of (former Mariner) Jamie Moyer, which is okay if you're successful with it, but he hasn't been successful lately."
"So, the Mariners have acquired a guy who, by default, is their best pitcher - at least until James Paxton comes back. Because the other guys they've got in there aren't getting into the sixth inning."
"Leake's history in the Majors suggests that he's at least a competent pitcher."
"I don't know if it's a difference maker," Thiel said.
"Jerry Dipoto, the general manager, said that this is a deal for several years. Because they do have his contract with them for another three years in which he's going to be paid $55 million."
"The best part of the deal for the Mariners, from a financial standpoint, is that St. Louis was so eager to get rid of Leake and his contract that they agreed to pay $17 million of that $55 million."
"He could be a middle-of-the-rotation asset at best. But is he going to help this year? There's nothing in his record to suggest an uptick and yet he's better than anybody the Mariners have."
"So, that's the signal of despair here for the Mariners. It's just not going well."
"A lot of it's out of their control with the injuries. But it's also a sign that the Mariners have no one in the farm system capable of drawing interest of another team for a quality guy heading into Labor Day weekend and the start of the pennant race."
"It's not looking good."