By Shannon Drayer
A conversation we had with Eric Wedge before today’s 10-8 loss came to mind as we walked into the losing clubhouse.
The pregame talk was about the struggles to hit with runners in scoring position. Wedge was asked about some of the obstacles to that and whether he believed the theory put forth by some that hitting with runners on should be no different than with the bases empty. He clearly was not a fan of that thinking.
Charlie Furbush allowed a walkoff home run Monday to cap Cleveland’s four-game sweep of the Mariners. (AP)
“Those people don’t hit or haven’t hit since little league, if at all,” Wedge said.
“It’s just different,” he continued. “Those people argue that the ninth inning is the same as the seventh and eighth. The ninth inning is different because we are human beings, we are not widgets. No different from when you are doing regular human being things and your heartbeat speeds up a little bit from different things you do in regular life. That’s what happens when these guys are playing and millions of people are watching and there are 30,000 people in the stands.
“It’s a situation to where it is a little bit more important. The outcome is going to be more important, and you feel that.”
From the looks of things, that was felt today. We saw a lot of human in that game. Not in the situational-hitting department but rather in the late-inning defense and decision making. The heartbeat that Wedge often talks about may have contributed to late-inning mistakes that cost the Mariners a ballgame. This is by no means an excuse.
Justin Smoak failing to dig a ball out of the dirt on a good play by Robert Andino, Tom Wilhelmsen failing to catch a ball and Charlie Furbush appearing to not be ready are not things we typically see, yet they happened today.
We talk about the steps that this team needs to take. Three home runs today – all big, all clutch – were great to see. Hitting with runners in scoring position, however, needs to remain the focus. Minimizing errors needs to be a focus. Generating something, anything, on the bases needs to be a focus.
The Mariners are now in their longest losing streak of the season. This isn’t April, however. We have seen too much good to think that this is it for this team. We have seen some bats come around. We have seen the bullpen redefine itself and have success. This should only be a bump in the road, but it is up to them.
We are just about wheels up now. I will have more from Anaheim.