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<  Shannon Drayer

Pitching joins hitting as a problem for Mariners

By Shannon Drayer

Again, quick getaway thoughts as there is no Wi-Fi on the plane, so it is now or never from the bus.

Obviously the Mariners are fighting battles on multiple fronts right now. Eric Wedge made a move with Brendan Ryan this morning and pointed to the veterans as being a group that needed to pick things up. He probably should add the pitching to that group.

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Joe Saunders allowed eight earned runs on 11 hits over five innings of work in Wednesday's loss to Houston. (AP)
I was hopeful that the mere fact that Minute Maid Park slightly resembled Safeco Field might coax a Safeco-like performance out of Joe Saunders, but no go. Saunders gave up eight runs in five innings and saw his ERA jump to 6.33.

Saunders isn't the lone culprit, however, as the team ranked 11th in the league in pitching heading into Wednesday. The pitching woes have been overshadowed by the hitting, but they are there and quite frankly strange to see. If nothing else there has been decent pitching in years past. Even if the hitting comes around a little bit it will not be enough if the pitching does not improve.

Back to the Brendan Ryan/Robert Andino move. There was plenty of displeasure about the move expressed on Twitter and in the blogs. Why would you replace a defensively superior shortstop with an average shortstop who is only hitting marginally better? I think you had to get Ryan out of there regardless of who replaced him. The defense is not enough when you are hitting .143 and showing no signs of pulling out of it. At this point he is not going to turn it around offensively playing every day.

So Andino gets a look and I suspect it may be a short look. As I noted in my previous post, neither he nor Ryan have options remaining and to bring someone in, someone will have to go out. If you are looking at sitting Ryan for a significant amount of time then the position is essentially open. Andino is here so he played today. Wedge said he will be given an opportunity but he has not exactly put up the best at-bats. I doubt Wedge will have much patience for this if it continues.

Carlos Triunfel is off to a good start in Tacoma. I said earlier that it is important that the Mariners do not rush prospects to fill needs at the big-league level, but would Triunfel be rushed at this point? He has spent seven seasons in the minors and played more than a full season at Tacoma. From what I am told he made great strides defensively. The opportunity to play him every day is there, and if he can't handle that he could fill the utility role having played multiple positions coming up. Andino would have to be DFA'd but there is a good chance he would clear.

I don't know what the plan is but I suspect that since Andino is on the roster he is being given a look. He is not the priority long term, however, so there is a chance we could see a change in the near future.

Wheels up. Talk to you from Seattle.

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