(1090 The Fan) — The Seattle Mariners (37-34) managed three straight wins after dropping the first five of their just-finished eight-game homestand. The final two of those came at the expense of the San Diego Padres (29-42) and now it’s the Padres turn to host a short two-game series.

If you think the Mariners are bad offensively, read the rest of this paragraph. The Friars rank dead last in the National League in batting average (.214), on-base perentage (.274) and slugging percentage (.340). Furthermore, the Padres have just one player, Seth Smith, who ranks in the top 74 in the NL in OBP.

The Mariners enter Wednesday’s game batting .253/.313/.388 on the road and are averaging 4.7 runs per game away from Safeco Field. The club has done so without getting much from Kyle Seager in 34 road contests. The third baseman is batting .215/.287/.354 with just one of his 10 home runs.

Seager, however, entered 2014 with a career .289/.345/.491 triple-slash outside of his home ballpark, so the first 34 games certainly are not indicative of what he’s likely to do the remainder of the season.

Pitching Matchups | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
Wednesday: Felix Hernandez, RHP vs. Andrew Cashner, RHP
Hernandez was the no-luck loser in his last outing as the M’s couldn’t plate a run against the Rangers, dropping the game 1-0. But the M’s ace has been absurdly good this season and in June he’s been lights out, sporting a 1.21 ERA with 29 strikeouts, three walks and just 16 hits allowed in 22 1/3 innings.

The right-hander has been nearly unhittable since a relatively mediocre outing May 12. Since that start, Hernandez has yielded just seven earned runs on 32 hits in 47 innings. He’s walked just seven batters versus 52 strikeouts in that span and has induced nearly two ground ball outs for every fly ball out.

The King is the leader in the clubhouse in the Cy Young race — and don’t let anybody tell you any different. Anyone that leaves Hernandez out of their top 1 isn’t paying attention, or isn’t paying attention to what really matters.

Scouting Andrew Cashner
Grades reflect 20-80 scouting scale; 80 is outstanding, among league’s best, 50 is major-league average, 20 is poor, not in line with big-league standards.
Four-seam Fastball (93-96 mph) : 65
Two-seam Fastball (92-95) : 70
Slider (84-87) : 50
Curveball (76-78) : 45
Changeup (84-86) : 40
Control: 50
Command: 50

Cashner has developed into one of the better power right-handers in baseball, offering velocity up to 98 mph, run and sink on a plus two-seamer and a hard slider that can be a put-away pitch with two strikes. He will challenge hitters with a lot of fastballs (70 percent), most of those are of the two-seam variety which help him induce a decent rate of ground balls.

Cashner has cleaned up his delivery some the past few years, allowing him to repeat better and maintain some consistency with the hard stuff. His changeup is still below average and he doesn’t use it much, but he will occasionally backdoor a curveball against a left-handed batter.

The former TCU closer uses his lower half well and throws from a high three-quarters arm slot.

Cashner vs. Mariners
Willie Bloomquist: 0-2, BB
John Buck: 1-1, RBI
Robinson Cano: 1-3
Endy Chavez: 0-3
Cole Gillespie: 0-0, BB
Logan Morrison: 2-4, BB, SO
Kyle Seager: 2-3

Cashner 2014 Splits
LHB: .255/.333/.382
RHB: .222/.253/.284
Home: 1.41 ERA, .191 BAA
Road: 3.77 ERA, .285 BAA


Thursday: Erasmo Ramirez, RHP vs. Jesse Hahn, RHP
Ramirez has been a shell of his old self in eight of his nine starts this season, but he’s gone 9 2/3 innings of shutout baseball over his last two starts. The stuff returned last time out versus the Rangers at Safeco Field, but he issued four more walks to bring his three-start total to 13 since returning from the minors.

That outing against Texas was encouraging, however. His two-seamer and changeup were sinking and runnings down and in on right-handed batters and away from lefties, his slider displayed sharper break and his velocity crept back to the 90-92 mph and even touched 94 on a few occasions.

There is legitimate reason for optimism with Ramirez in terms of giving the Mariners innings and a chance to win, and the Padres lineup and Petco Park should do nothing to derail his recent trend.

Ramirez vs. Padres
Yonder Alonso: 2-3
Everth Cabrera: 0-2
Chris Denorfia: 2-3, 2B
Chase Headley: 0-3
Carlos Quentin: 1-3, SO
Seth Smith: 4-8, 2-2B, HR, SO
Will Venable: 1-3, SO

Ramirez Splits
LHB: .298/.396/.468
RHB: .267/.329/.533
Home: 3.38 ERA, .200 BAA
Road: 6.41 ERA, .325 BAA

Scouting Jesse Hahn
Four-seam Fastball (90-92 mph): 45
Two-seam Fastball (89-91): 50
Slider (84-87): 40
Curveball (73-76): 50
Changeup (84-86): 50
Control: 40
Command: 50

Hahn is making start No. 3 this season and has been serviceable yet he’s a little short on stuff and especially command to excuse the Mariners if they struggle to produce baserunners against him. His release point can be inconsistent leading to deep counts, bases on balls and short outings. He throws from a high three-quarters slot. There’s some arm side run on the two-seam fastball and he can reach 95 with the four-seamer, but the spotty command and control neutralizes his raw stuff.

His best breaking ball is an average curveball that flashed above average. His changeup can be effective when finishes and sets it up with well-located fastball. The 24-year-old is a fly ball pitcher that will benefit from the friendly confines of Petco Park, but he’s handled left-handed batters outside two mistakes that ended up leaving the yard.

Hahn will be making his first start versus Seattle and the rookie has yet to face any of the current Mariners roster in the big leagues.

Hahn Splits
LHB: .105/.150/.421
RHB: .294/.455/.294
Home: 9.82 ERA, .353 BAA
Road: 0.00 ERA, .053 BAA

Sandmeyer Says | Steve Sandmeyer, 1090 The Fan
The Mariners, unlike many American League teams, don’t suffer quite as much in National League ballparks — because losing the DH usually isn’t much of a blow to a team that doesn’t get much productivity out of that spot to begin with. I wish I could say I was joking. The Mariners, simply put, are a National League team stuck in an American League city. Ask Felix if he would’ve liked to hit for himself — instead of having the DH — during his last start at home in which the Mariners lost one to nothing. Notice my choice of words: The MARINERS lost one to nothing, not Felix. I simply refuse to attach that loss to him — no matter what the idiotic win/loss rule in baseball says.

Don’t be surprised if the Mariners play for one run pretty early in the Felix vs. Andrew Cashner match up. Felix only needs a run or two to begin with (which is no guarantee with this team — as he has experienced recently) and Cashner can pitch. Lloyd might bunt runners over a little earlier on — as there’s a good chance he won’t be able to manipulate the pitcher’s spot in the order, because he’ll want to keep Felix in — even during the latter stages of the game. It’s easy to throw a pinch hitter like Stefen Romero in for a struggling Erasmo Ramirez during the early stages of a game, like he did in Atlanta. It’s not so easy to do it when an ace like Felix is dealing.

Did I mention a struggling Ramirez? Yeah, uh, I’d really like to give you an honest analysis of game two this series — but I’ll defer to Churchill’s pitching breakdown — since I just threw up in my mouth a little bit while staring at a match up between Ramirez and Jesse Hahn. The atmosphere at Petco Park with such an illustrious pair of big league starters — complete with a 3:40 PM first pitch on a Thursday afternoon — will be truly crap-tastic.

Key Notes | Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
The Mariners enter Game 1 of this series 20-14 on the road, the second-best mark in the American League behind Cleveland’s 22-12 and equal to that of division-rival Oakland and Los Angeles. Furthermore, the M’s are averaging 4.7 runs per contest away from home, fourth-best
in the circuit … Seattle is No. 2 in the AL batting .253 with runners in scoring position and two out: WIllie Bloomquist is 5-for-8 in those situations, Cole HGillespie is 4-for-9 and James Jones is 5-for-14. Robinson Cano is 6-for-17 with seven walks and just two strikeouts … Kyle Seager is one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball with a runner at third base and fewer than two outs. The third baseman is 7-for-12 with a double, a home run and 13 RBI in those scenarios. The M’s as a team? Pretty darned good at .368/.375/.594, among the top five in the league in plating runs from third with less than two down.

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