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Series Twenty: Mariners at Marlins

In their past twelve ballgames the Marlins have gone 2 - 10. That's not pretty. Unfortunately, the going doesn't get any easier this week. While the Marlins will be at home (starting tonight) to face the Mariners for three games and then the Rangers (over the weekend) for three more, these next six games will be tough.

Once the homestand concludes, the Fish head to Chicago (Cubs), Anaheim (Angels), Atlanta, and then Tampa before returning home to conclude the month with a four game set against the eternal-champion Braves. The threat of a June swoon is imminent.

Hopefully something will change to turn those prospects around. To help boost our spirits, we sat down with Mariner Moose.

: Welcome to Fish Stripes, Mariner Moose! We're pretty down in the dumps right now. Can you tell us anything to boost our spirits?

: You guys are down? Why? Sure, it's been a rough stretch these past two or three weeks, but the Marlins have so much to be optimistic about.

There's a rotation filled with three potential aces - who are living up to that potential this year - in Willis, Burnett, and Beckett. And you can't discount the quality innings that Brian Moehler is producing.

Offensively, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado are two potential All-Stars, and maybe even Hall of Famers, who seem to be clicking. Luis Castillo is playing unbelievably well - especially when you consider that it looks like he has a hard time walking. Once Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, and Paul LoDuca come around, this is going to be an offense to be reckoned with.

The bullpen may not have worked itself out yet - and the Marlins may still need another arm - but Todd Jones has been lights out. Mota has struggled since he came back from the DL, but over the past few years he's proven to be an elite arm. There's hope there.

Honestly, for the Mariners, this is a series we fear. With one pitch, Carlos Delgado and Miguel Cabrera can change an entire ballgame. With them hitting back-to-back in the lineup, it causes some matchup problems for the opponent. And turning things around, the Marlins are going to throw Moehler, Willis, and Beckett at us in this series. Despite all the money the Mariners spent on offense this offseason, I'm not sure they'll manage and runs.

: Thanks, I feel a little bit better now. Speaking of those offseason acquisitions, Beltre and Sexson have been disappointing.

: Beltre - the owner of a .622 OPS - may have been a disappointment so far this year, but it's not fair to say that Sexson has been. Richie has a case for the All-Star team, with his 13 homers and .520 slugging percentage. His batting average is low, and he strikes out a lot - but he also walks all the time. He's as close as it gets in the Pacific Northwest to a three-true-outcomes guy.

: One of the other things that I think a lot of us are looking forward to in this series is the opportunity to watch Ichiro. Many of us have never seen Ichiro live before. What can you tell us to expect?

: Ichiro is the real deal. He's going to put the ball in play. He doesn't walk very often and it's about as rare to see him strikeout. Joe Robbie should prove to be a nice park for Ichiro, as there are lots of places for him to shoot the ball for extra base hits. That said, he's an expert - even better than Juan Pierre - of finding his way onbase with an infield hit.

If you're out at the ballpark this week, I'd keep an eye on him in the field. Ichiro is arguably as good of a defender as he is a hitter. With Ichiro, Ken Griffey, and Mike Cameron, we Mariners' fans have been fortunate to witness some stellar outfield defense over the past decade and a half. Ichiro doesn't play center, but he brings some acrobatics and a rifle arm to the position.

Also, show up early for batting practice if you can - that's the only time (most likely) that you'll get to see Ichiro's power.

: Any other parting thoughts for us?

: Yes - make sure to keep an eye out for Ft. Lauderdale product Mike Morse. He's barely 23 and was just called up last week. You'll likely get to see some of him this week. Morse was acquired by the Mariners last year in the Freddy Garcia trade (with the White Sox). Some injuries this year created an opportunity for him at the major league level. We'll see how it goes.

: Thanks, Moose! This should be an interesting series. I don't think the Marlins and Mariners have ever met before - not even in an exhibition game.