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

July 24, 2007 at 10:03 PM

Five losses in a row

Been down this road before, haven’t we? The Mariners get the entire city in a lather over their playoff chances, then go on a cliff dive. Happened back in June, I seem to recall, with a six-game losing streak that knocked them well back in the AL West.
Things are a little different now. The Angels keep losing (maybe the AL West really is reverting to form?) so the Mariners, as bad as today looked, are still only a half-game worse off, 2 1/2 out in the division and three back in the wild-card hunt. Not terrible yet, but something has to change. Right now, this team is not playing good baseball.
Yuniesky Betancourt cost his team a huge run in that fifth inning by getting picked off at second. The team is not playing as well as it has in the field. I spoke to Jason Ellison about his not taking second on that errant throw by the catcher. The explanation he gave me was that he’d already committed to head back to first and didn’t want to get hung-up between bases by hesitating.
The play was a botched hit-and-run, Ellison says he knew that Gagne is only 1.2 seconds to the plate and made the perfect pitch for a runner to be thrown on. Ellison also didn’t want to run into the scoop tag that would have been made on him had the offline throw to second been caught.
Yes, we all know he would have been safe had he turned and again headed for second after the throw went into center. But I also understand not wanting to hestiate and risk getting thrown out when you’re the tying run in the ninth. I can forgive Ellison for what happened. He made the wrong decision. But in not getting himself thrown out on that play (which he didn’t) he also made the right one. No, that won’t make anyone feel better. I know.
To answer “Jordan” and his question on why John McLaren won’t bunt in the final inning. McLaren doesn’t believe a road team should play for a tie in the ninth. He told us that the other night and he’s apparently sticking to it.
Listen to what Jose Guillen had to say about why his team lost. Some lively audio.
“We’re not playing smart,” Guillen said. “We’re just getting our ass kicked. Simple as that.”
No, they are not playing smart baseball. Guillen is bang-on about that.
McLaren has his work cut out for him. Yes, the Angels lost. Kelvim Escobar throws another seven-inning “quality start” and his team does what it did to him the past three seasons. Can’t score runs. That’s to the M’s benefit.
But McLaren is smart enough not to fall back on that. If his team keeps playing like this, the playoff race will be over long before September with the Mariners on the outside looking in. The offense is truly scuffling. You have to score more than four runs per game to win in the AL. The Mariners have done it only four times in their first 13 games since the All-Star Break.
They are 5-8 over that stretch. (Not 5-13 as I hastily wrote at first and “MNB” pointed out).
Hear what McLaren has to say about his team’s offensive struggles right here.
“We’re going to fight our way through this,” he said. “And the only way to do that is to stay positive.”
“I’m not going to feel sorry about us,” he added. “We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves.”
Hey, I can be positive. Won $15 tonight as part of the pressbox pool as to when the second game would end. I guessed 10:13 p.m. and it was 10:10 p.m. Not bad, considering we made these guesses before Game 1, with the great Dave Niehaus collecting everyone’s $1 guesses on paper.
Don’t worry, I won’t spend it all in one place. Been a long day, hasn’t it?

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