Heart of Mariners' order struggling to produce

Cano, Cruz, Seager off to slow starts offensively

April 9th, 2017
The middle of the Mariners' order has hit a combined .152 with three doubles, no home runs and four RBIs through six games. (AP)

ANAHEIM -- The plan was clear: Get better speed and on-base athletes at the top of the order, strengthen the bottom with better hitters and rely on the big sluggers in the middle to do serious damage.

But with the Mariners off to a 1-5 start, the main missing ingredient remains heart of the order production. The trio of , and is hitting a combined .152 with three doubles, no home runs and four RBIs through six games.

"There's no doubt," manager Scott Servais said after Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Angels. "Those are the guys that drive the bus and they're not all swinging it very good right now. But guys at the top and really at the bottom, we've created some havoc and some oportunities to get guys on base and in scoring position. We moved a couple guys over tonight, we just didn't get 'em in all the time."

Leadoff hitter went 3-for-4 and is batting .333, becoming the first Mariner with four multi-hit games in the first six outings since in 2005. Rookie Mitch Haniger slugged a two-run homer, his second of the year, from the No. 2 spot in the order.

There were signs of life from the heart of the order -- Seager doubled and scored in the seventh, Cano singled in the eighth and Cruz followed with a sacrifice fly that cut the margin to 5-4.

But for a team built around that engine, it wasn't nearly enough, particularly with off to a 1-for-20 start and the entire squad putting up just a .172/.253/.249 line to date.

"Those guys are grinding," Servais said. "They're trying to get in a better spot. I thought Leonys' timing was a little better tonight. Cruz was much better. Robbie is still a little off and Seager is working through some things.

"But when you're not hitting, it looks like you're not trying. I know the fanbase and others are saying, 'Oh, these guys don't care.' But they care. Trust me. And we have a lot of games ahead of us. I thought the meetings we had today and guys out for early work was a positive. Unfortunately we didn't see all the positive in the game tonight, but we'll be back at it tomorrow."