The Seattle Mariners come into Camden Yards for a three-game set against the Orioles starting Tuesday. Both teams have underachieved so far this season, but the Mariners haven’t fared nearly as well as they were supposed to. Many baseball “experts” thought the Mariners would win the AL West with the addition of LHP Cliff Lee and bats like Chone Figgins (.185 average, seven RBI, zero homeruns in 2010) and Casey Kotchman (.194, 14 RBI, three homeruns). It’s still early, but having a 12-19 record in mid-May and being 5 ½ games back in the division isn’t exactly where they wanted to be at this point.

Their pitching hasn’t been the issue, as they are ranked in the top-five in the AL in most major pitching categories. But much like the O’s, the Mariner’s bats haven’t been producing many runs. They are batting .229 as a team, which is 13th in the AL and they don’t rank better than 13th in any major hitting categories. If your offense isn’t producing but 3.3 runs per game, it doesn’t really matter how good your pitching is. The Mariners made some progress Sunday, though, as they won their first game since April 28. They “exploded” for 12 hits and eight runs against the Angels and hope to build off that performance against the O’s pitching. Here are the pitching match ups for the upcoming three-game series.

Tuesday, May 11, 7:05 PM
Seattle – Cliff Lee (0-1, 2.40 ERA)
Baltimore – David Hernandez (0-4, 5.74 ERA)

The O’s face the Mariners ace in the first game, which could prove to be the toughest game of the series. Lee started out the season on the DL, but since he’s been reactivated he has pitched relatively well. He held the Rangers to three hits and no runs over seven innings in his first outing, but was a victim of no run support and received a no-decision. Lee lost his second start to the Rays, but still pitched a decent game allowing four earned runs and 10 hits over eight innings. He was solid last year for the Indians and Phillies and is expected to get on a similar roll this season with the Mariners. Lee is going to give his team a chance to win every time he steps on the mound, it’s just a matter of his offense putting some runs on the board for him. Hernandez, on the other hand, hasn’t won since Aug. 11, and is 0-10 with a 6.84 ERA in 15 starts. He’s coming off his worst start of the season after allowing six runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Yankees.

Wednesday, May 12, 7:05 PM
Seattle – Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-2, 6.21 ERA)
Baltimore – Brad Bergesen (2-2, 7.36 ERA)

Bergesen is easily coming off his best start of the season after throwing 6 2/3 solid innings and allowing just six hits and no runs in Minnesota last Thursday. Let’s hope the Mariners’ anemic offense can supply Bergesen with some much-needed confidence. I really like what Bergesen has to offer and I hope he can find what made him successful at the end of last season. The opposing pitcher, Rowland-Smith, has been struggling with his focus this season and his statistics surely show that. He hasn’t been throwing particularly well, so hopefully the O’s can take advantage of that.

Thursday, May 13, 12:35 PM
Seattle – Felix Hernandez (2-3, 4.30 ERA)
Baltimore – Kevin Millwood (0-4, 3.26 ERA)

The lone afternoon match up should be the most interesting of the three games in this series. King Felix, as he is known, has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the major leagues over the past few years. He has always thrived against the O’s, but he hasn’t been as sharp this season as he is used to being. He has been dealing with some back stiffness, which could explain his recent struggles. Millwood has pitched very well this season, but has been a victim of low run support and, in turn, has no wins to show for his effort. I expect this to be a low-scoring affair (big surprise, right?) with it possibly coming down to who can hit in the clutch in the late innings.

If the O’s bats wake up a little, I think they have a chance to take at least two of three from the Mariners. Lee and Hernandez are always tough to score off of, but the Mariners haven’t been giving them much run support either. Hopefully the O’s get this eight-game home stand started off with a couple of much-needed wins.