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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

June 16, 2007 at 8:00 PM

Tired and hurting

Yes, the Mariners are exactly that. They are tired and they are hurting. Both on the physical side, missing the bat of Adrian Beltre, not to mention the three relievers on the disabled list. Horacio Ramirez could have turned in a better effort than Cha Seung Baek tonight, so I’ll risk the argument that they missed a diabled Ramirez as well.
But the standings are where it really starts to hurt. Seattle now trails the Angels by six games. That’s the biggest the gap has been all season. The M’s are also in third place, though the A’s are losing so they likely won’t give up any more ground to them. How can it be that things seemed so different just four days ago? Well, I can tell you, that 13-inning win in Chicago took a lot out of the Mariners. As did the previous wins in their final at-bat, as someone mentioned in the previous post.
The Mariners are tired. They look it. And when they get behind by a 7-1 score in the third inning they are done. This offense might have had the juice to overcome that margin say, two weeks ago. But not now. Not after one off-day in a month. The days of putting up a dozen runs to bail out one lousy starter after another are long done. No, the starters have not been terrible. Until Baek today, that is. But six innings a night, while fine in the “quality start” department, can start to seriously hamper a team if there is nothing longer to rest the bullpen.
We’ve preached it all year and I’ll keep on doing it. This type of work is not going to get the job done. The M’s are paying the price now. When the hitting stops, the losses pile up. This team feels the strain.
“We’ve had two tough road trips this (past) month,” Richie Sexson said. “It’s been a long time that we’ve been on the road. Maybe some guys may be feeling it at this point.
“But we’ve all dealt with it before when we’ve had long stints,” he quickly added. “There have been times where we’ve had to play seven or eight in a row. So, you’ve just got to deal with it.”
Sexson says it’s easy to tell when a team is fatigued.
“You can see it in the swings,” he said. “Some of the pitchers in our bullpens have worked through a couple of rough spells. We used them quite a bit in that extra inning game in Chicago. You see it throughout the team, I think, a little bit.”
Sexson went hitless and is batting just .194.
“I’m fine, bro,” he said when I tried asking how he feels.
OK then. For the record, manager Mike Hargrove also feels Sexson has had some good at-bats and taken a solid approach. He has hit some balls hard, no question. But he has also had some lousy nights. Hargrove is reluctant to move Sexson further back in the order.
“What am I going to do, bat him eighth?” he asked me when I broached the subject.
Not that he hasn’t thought about doing exactly that. The problem is, Hargrove worries it might have a detrimental affect. Everyone knows Sexson usually rebounds in the second half. He usually hits 35 home runs and drives in 100. The M’s haven’t gotten value out of him so far. They don’t want to drop him further back in the order, risk having it throw him off and then lose any potential future value that history shows they stand to gain.
Is this all going to be solved by a single off-day on Monday? Probably not. There are several long term issues facing this club, the health of Beltre, the lack of production by Sexson, the over-abundance of six-inning starters and a tiring bullpen, for it all to be fixed in 24 hours. The best the M’s can do now? Salvage one game in this series tomorrow. That will be a tall order against Astros ace Roy Oswalt. Seattle just lost to Woody Williams, who is only 3-9 with a 5.50 earned run average (in the NL at that!). But the Angels are about to head off to the races. They have Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey going the next two outings.
And while the M’s do have the Reds and Pirates to look forward to, they’ve used up a lot of their so-called “record padding” games against the Cubs and Astros already. The margin for error is getting thinner by the day.
“We just need to win,” Sexson said. “We’re not worried about finishing the trip (above) .500. We just need to win games.”
Indeed they do.



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