By Shannon Drayer
On Monday night, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon finally gave the evaluation of his team. He has held back on that – refused to do so, in fact, until he was with them for 50 games. At the 50-game mark the question was asked and McClendon answered.
"I like my team. I like where we are," he said. "Is there room for improvement? Yes. But that is a gutsy bunch out there. They show up every day and it is nice to look in their eyes and know they are not afraid of their opponent. They go about their business in the right way. I wanted them to take on my personality and I think they have. They are a pretty tough bunch."
There is obviously room for improvement, lots of improvement with the offense. There are other areas that McClendon pointed to that needed to be tightened up as well. While calling the pitching the foundation of the club, he pointed out that the defense hasn't always been there.
"It is something we talked about throughout the spring," he said. "We need to catch the ball. If we caught the ball and executed on defense and not give them extra outs, we would be a very competitive club."
In order to take the next step forward McClendon said his team has to get comfortable at home, where the Mariners are 11-12 so far.
"We need to improve our record at home. This is our house, we need to protect it," he said. "We haven't done as good a job as I think we should have at home and I think we will get better. Guys are starting to get healthy, it is starting to warm up a bit. If we protect our home turf and play a little bit above .500 on the road we will be okay."
On that note, the homestand just got a little tougher. The Tigers have announced their starters for the weekend series against the Mariners and this is what it looks like:
So that will be a challenge, although interestingly enough the Indians swept Drew Smyly, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer just a week ago. With the ties that McClendon and the majority of his staff have to the Tigers, it should be a very interesting series. I would imagine the Mariners' starters will get some very detailed scouting reports on Detroit's hitters.
It is somewhat disappointing not to see Felix Hernandez pitch this weekend but great to see him get back the start he lost due to rain in New York. Felix loves pitching there. In his six starts at the new Yankee Stadium, he has pitched two complete games and allowed just six runs.
One other item of note on the probables: Brandon Maurer – who has struggled mightily – is scheduled to pitch Thursday. There was some thought that James Paxton could make that start but triceps tightness after his rehab start in Tacoma has eliminated that possibility. Paxton had his bullpen session scratched Monday and is hoping to play catch later today.