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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: The Mariners’ offense is broken, as two no-hitters in one month attests

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull throws to a Seattle Mariners batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s Wednesday morning and we’ve got nothing. Sort of like the Mariners’ offense.


• It’s time for Seattle to hire Mario Mendoza as its hitting coach. Sorry Tim Laker. When the entire team’s batting average is below the Mendoza-inspired line of demarcation – .200 – then it is time for a change.

And that’s where the M’s stand today after being no-hit for the second time this season. They are hitting .199. As a team. With an on-base percentage of .280, which isn’t even an exceptional batting average.

OK, so Laker probably isn’t the problem. After all, he was an outstanding major league hitter with a (checks Baseball Reference) .226 lifetime batting average. Oops. Never mind. … Actually, though, being able to hit big league pitching hasn’t ever been a prerequisite for success as a hitting coach. It just doesn’t look good when your charges aren’t hitting either.

Then again, nothing looks good about the Mariner offense right now.

Catcher Luis Torrens is hitting .178, which seems only slightly lower than his fielding percentage. Slick-fielding first baseman Evan White, on the injured list, is at .144. Dylan Moore has been swinging the bat better and is up to .168. Jose Marmolejos is at .145. The other catcher, Tom Murphy, is .137. Designated savior Jarred Kelenic is off to a .160 start.

The M’s leading hitter? Mitch Haniger is all the way up at .263.

Now many in the baseball analytics’ club will tell you batting average isn’t an important statistic anymore. There are others that capture the essence of offense. And they may be right. But it is still a way of judging how a team is doing relative to its peers.

Take a look at the major league batting average stats. Scroll down. Keep scrolling. Keep scrolling. There the M’s are. No. 30 in a 30-team sport. Thirteen points below the next-worst team, the Milwaukee Brewers.

In fact, check out the Mariners’ team OPS. Yep, they are 30th in that as well. On-base percentage? Thirty. Slugging? Hey, they are 26th. Progress. They are also 13th in home runs with 50 and 21st in runs, which seems nearly impossible.

What does it all mean? The M’s young hitters are being overpowered. Overmatched. Over-whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

And that means the pitching staff has to overreach every night to stay in games. Which isn’t a long-term formula for success.

Baseball has changed, sure, and no team is really an offensive juggernaut this season. Only five teams have more hits than strikeouts – one of those is the Angels and with Mike Trout out with an injury, that will change – meaning contact is once again at a premium. The M’s have 132 more strikeouts than they do hits, which isn’t the worst ratio in baseball but it’s close.

If you don’t put the bat on the ball, it’s hard to get hits, right? Seems elementary. So being no-hit is probably more in play than a zero-strikeout game. It’s a formula for boring baseball too, though nothing is all that boring if a team is winning.

It’s too bad Seattle hasn’t hit too highly in that regard either for the past couple decades.


WSU: Around the Pac-12 and college sports, more on the new commissioner, courtesy of one of the people who picked him, Washington’s president. … Who is doing well in the conference right now? And who is not? … Stanford has reversed course and will not drop the 11 sports. … Two old friends have reunited at Utah. … Arizona has lost a player it really never had. … Arizona State has to be one of the favorites in the South. … The softball seeding still isn’t sitting well with Pac-12 coaches.

Gonzaga: The 25th-ranked baseball team traveled to Eugene and dropped a 10-3 decision to the 13th-ranked Ducks. … There are a couple of GU questions, and one about the Cougars, in this Athletic college basketball mailbag.

EWU: Around the Big Sky, Idaho State has filled in a gap on the basketball staff.

Preps: Greater Spokane League basketball began last night and Dave Nichols was out at Gonzaga Prep to cover both games. So was Kathy Plonka, who has this photo gallery. … Dave also has a roundup of other action in the area. … Three North Idaho schools won state golf titles yesterday. Jim Meehan has all the particulars in this story.

Indians: Everett came into Avista Stadium on a roll. But Spokane, with the league’s worst record, slowed the Aquasox down, winning 5-2. Dan Thompson was at the ballpark and has this coverage. … Everett is the Mariners’ High-A affiliate, so many of the club’s top prospects are in town. Dave covers that in this notebook. … Larry Weir talked about this week’s series with Everett play-by-play announcer Pat Dillon on the latest Press Box podcast.

Shock: Spokane is coming off a sloppy loss, according to coach Billy Back. Now the Shock head to Boston for this weekend’s matchup with the Pirates. Ryan Collingwood has more in this story.

Mariners: Yes, the M’s have been no-hit twice this season. There have been five in all of baseball already. Spencer Turnbull’s outing in the Tigers’ 5-0 victory is one of the better ones. … Seattle needs all the pitching weapons it can have right now.

Seahawks: Everyone assumes an international player Seattle signed is a project. Maybe not. … The Hawks might keep a couple of the undrafted free agents they signed this offseason. Who may they be?

Storm: Las Vegas returned the favor Tuesday night, knocking off Seattle in Las Vegas, 96-80.


• Home run. Walk. Strike out. Seems that’s all that happens most of the time at a major league baseball game these days. One is exciting. One is meh. One is boring. You can decide which is which. Until later …