July 11, 2011 in Sports

Mariners go into break on five-game skid

Offense struggles as Angels finish sweep
Geoff Baker Seattle Times
 

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Justin Smoak sat quietly by his locker after this one, taking in the final scenes of a “first half” with the Mariners he sounds like he wants to forget.

It’s been a tough pre-All-Star portion of the schedule for Smoak, between the death of his father in April, then a prolonged slump that has erased much of the good he produced the first six weeks of the season. Now, with a fifth consecutive loss taken Sunday afternoon by his Mariners, beaten 4-2 by the Los Angeles Angels, even the team aspect of it all is slipping away.

“It’s been horrible, which is not what you want,” said Smoak, hitless his last 17 at-bats and in a 4-for-55 (.074) drought since June 24. “You’ve just got to try to keep working, try to get better and try to put some runs up for this team.”

Smoak said his only remaining goal is “to do better than I did in the first half” but he’s far from the only culprit on a squad that scored nine runs total in the five losses that ended this 2-5 trip. The Mariners dropped five games in the standings in five days and trail the division-leading Texas Rangers by 71/2 games heading into the break.

The offense has been a seasonlong work-in-progress that took a decisive turn for the worse the past five weeks. Since the start of a losing trip to Chicago and Detroit in early June, the team has averaged 2.5 runs and gone 12-20 after averaging 3.7 runs before that.

Smoak is hitting just .190 since early May, Franklin Gutierrez is at .187 since starting his season in mid-May and Ichiro Suzuki’s on-base plus slugging percentage of .640 is second-worst among all qualifying outfielders in baseball.

On Sunday, Felix Hernandez kept his team in a 2-2 game for seven innings before Alberto Callaspo doubled home a pair of runs with two out off David Pauley in the eighth. Hernandez had been staked to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Adam Kennedy’s two-run single off Angels starter Dan Haren.

But the Mariners stopped scoring and Mark Trumbo tied it with a two-run homer to left off Hernandez in the fourth.

“I’m not really happy with it,” Hernandez said. “It’s disappointing. The homer was a mistake that I made and he made me pay.”

• Box score /B4

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