Mariners notebook: McClendon looking for a ‘killer instinct’
HOUSTON – After seeing his team score eight runs against the division-leading Astros on Saturday, you would think you would find a happy Lloyd McClendon in the visiting managers’ office Sunday. That was not the case.
“Our club scored eight runs in the first three innings and then we shut it down the rest of the way,” McClendon said. “We have got to find a way to find our killer instinct and we haven’t done a good job of that. We’ll see tomorrow and hopefully we will get a complete outing from our offense.”
I didn’t find the skipper’s words or mood to be a complete surprise. We saw last year that when the team was struggling he would protect. I don’t know what was being said behind the scenes then, but publicly the message was always that they were going to be okay. Guys were working hard. Baseball is not easy. The time to push was when things were going well. I think we saw a little bit of that Saturday night, but I also think there was a little more to it.
When we arrived in the clubhouse Saturday morning, the normal notices and assignments were on the dry-erase board. Also on the board was “Meeting 1:00.”
McClendon did talk with the club Saturday. He didn’t like what he saw the night before.
“We got our ass kicked, 10-0. We were pretty lifeless,” he said. “I don’t mind losing the game but you still got to fight and I didn’t see that. I saw no accountability, no fight yesterday. I thought it was time to say something.”
It would appear that the message was received – for three innings, at least. McClendon stressed that they needed to find their “killer instinct.”
“It’s more than coming out ready to play,” he said. “It comes from accountability, but it also comes from performing on that field. That is the bottom line.
“All’s not well every time you win and it’s my job to point those things out and make my club better. We’re six games under .500 and I don’t think anyone is happy about that. I’ve got to get them going, we got to get going. It’s time to kick a little butt. We’ll see what happens today.”
Seth Smith, RF
Austin Jackson, CF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Logan Morrison, 1B
Dustin Ackley, LF
Brad Miller, SS
Jesus Sucre, C
Roenis Elias, LHP
• Mark Trumbo was originally in Sunday’s lineup playing left field but was scratched with back spasms.
• McClendon pointed out Saturday night that although Mike Montgomery’s performance all in all was good, he did struggle with his command later in the game. He credited Mike Zunino with helping keep him in the game despite bouncing a number of curveballs. I found it interesting that he kept throwing the curve and it turns out that Zunino kept calling for it. He told me he could see that it was helping keep the Astros off-balance and felt that his fastball was good enough Saturday to get him back in the count if need be. With the big lead he also thought it was important for Montgomery to get more work on the pitch.
• The Mariners may or may not make a roster move prior to Monday’s game against the Giants. McClendon said Saturday that it would be tough to go into the National League park with a short bench. On Sunday he hedged his bet a little bit but I still would be surprised if we don’t see a move to get another position player.