Mariners notebook: Still looking for answers for up and down offense
OAKLAND, Calif. – After the Mariners’ 2-0 loss Saturday afternoon to the A’s, I think we heard some of the first true hints of frustration from manager Lloyd McClendon. He confirmed that in his pregame talk with the media Sunday, noting that it’s tough to find answers for why the offense cannot get on any sort of a consistent roll.
“I think the frustrating part of it is when you score nine one night and you come back against a guy who is not a dominant pitcher and you get shut out, that’s a little frustrating, a little puzzling,” McClendon admitted. “I say it all the time but because if you look at the back of the bubble-gum cards of my guys, they’ve got track records. They’ve done good things, but right now they are just not playing up to their capabilities. We scored five, we scored seven, we got shut out, we scored nine we got shut out. It doesn’t jibe.”
A new hitting coach has been brought in – although it is still too early to expect dramatic results as Edgar Martinez is still learning the hitters, and the hitters, though eager, are still learning his approach – and the manager and staff have worked to keep the hitters as relaxed as possible through the struggles. The work is being put in, but the results are still not there.
“You try to do different things to try to get them relaxed and have fun and just go out and play the game. At some point you think we have got to find some consistency,” McClendon said. “We are going to lose some games, I get that, it’s part of the game. From time to time you will get shut out, but when you are in a groove and you are starting to hit, you want to keep it going. We know it’s going to happen; we are just waiting for it to happen.”
In an effort to get something going, McClendon is straying away from what has turned out to be a regular lineup against righties, with James Jones at the top and Kyle Seager hitting second Sunday. If Jones gets on there’s a good chance Seager – whom McClendon said has been hitting the ball well of late despite not getting results – could see some more fastballs. Moving the middle of the lineup up a spot also gives those at the top the possibly to get an extra at-bat as well.
“Right now I am trying to get all of my guys up there who are giving me the solid at-bats to give them that extra at-bat,” McClendon said.
Cano finding his stroke?
Robinson Cano is starting to heat up at the plate. He’s collected three or more hits in two of his last four games, bringing his total of games with three or more hits to six this season (he had nine last year). Over the last 23 games he is hitting a bit closer to the back of his baseball card at .281/.316/.483/.799.
Could we see a better second half Cano? McClendon believes there is reason to think we will.
“He’s battled some stomach issues and also the loss of his grandfather,” McClendon said. “There have been some things that have been going on but Robbie is a tough kid. It’s been a tough couple of months but he is a very proud kid. I didn’t think anybody will tell you they are more disappointed in his performance than him. But in the end, the full body of work is probably what we should judge him on, and I think when all is said and done he’s going to have a pretty good year for us.
“I expect that he is going to have just a breakout second half. When all is said and done his numbers will be right there where they should be.”
James Jones, CF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Seth Smith, RF
Logan Morrison, 1B
Dustin Ackley, LF
Brad Miller, SS
Mike Zunino, C
Mike Montgomery, LHP
• McClendon will not be with the team for the three-game series against Detroit that starts Monday, as he will travel home to attend the funeral of his youngest sister, who passed away suddenly. Bench coach Trent Jewett will manage the club in his absence.
• All-Star starters will be unveiled on the All-Star Starters Selection Show at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. Nelson Cruz was the leading vote-getter at DH earlier in the week.